NATIONAL CDA

Professional Recognition Without a Degree

The nationally recognized Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offers valuable knowledge about working with children and helping them reach their full potential. It is often a first step into a career teaching and caring for young children.

The Council for Professional Recognition, the agency that issues the CDA credential, is the best resource for CDA-related questions. For more information on the CDA or to order your CDA Competency Standards book, including application materials, please visit the Council for Professional Recognition’s website.

Couple and children playing with toys
BENEFITS

Child care professionals who earn their National CDA credential receive increased professional recognition.

Other benefits include:

  • Eligibility to receive child care assistance dollars at a higher reimbursement rate in a family child care setting
  • Assistant teacher qualified in a child care center setting
  • Credits toward a higher education degree
  • Increased Career Lattice Step from Develop
  • May count toward a Parent Aware Rating
ELIGIBILITY

Candidate must have:

  • Earned a high school diploma or GED
  • Completed 120 training hours
  • Chosen a credential setting:
    • Infant and toddler (center-based)
    • Preschool (center-based)
    • Family child care
    • Head Start Home Visitor
  • Worked with children in their chosen setting a minimum of 480 hours within the past three years
APPLICATION PROCESS

Before You Apply

  1. Complete 120 hours of training with at least 10 hours in each of the following eight CDA content areas:
    1. Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
    2. Advancing children's physical and intellectual development
    3. Supporting children's social and emotional development
    4. Building productive relationships with families
    5. Managing an effective program operation
    6. Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
    7. Observing and recording children's behavior
    8. Principles of child development and learning
  2. Purchase the CDA Competency Standards book that matches the setting you work in (infant/toddler, preschool, family child care, or home visitor) from the Council for Professional Recognition’s website
  3. Create a Professional Portfolio by following instructions in the CDA Competency Standards book
  4. Choose a Professional Development Specialist using the CDA Council’s directory
  5. If eligible, apply for a CDA Assessment Fee Scholarship

 

Applying to the CDA Council

  1. Complete an application using the Council’s YourCDA online system or a paper application and pay the $425 assessment fee (As of January 1, 2018 the application fee for paper applications will increase to $500)
  2. Once you receive your ready to schedule notification from the CDA Council:
    1. Schedule your Verification Visit with your Professional Development Specialist
    2. Schedule your CDA exam at the nearest Pearson Vue testing center
  3. Receive your CDA from the Council for Professional Recognition
RENEWAL PROCESS

The National CDA is valid for three years after the award date and may be renewed no sooner than six months before the expiration date. The purpose of the CDA renewal is to ensure that early childhood professionals are maintaining current knowledge and skills in their work with young children and families.

 

Before You Apply

  1. Have documented proof of current Child CPR and First Aid certificates. Online CPR or First Aid training will not be accepted.
  2. Within the past year, have at least 80 hours of work or volunteer experience with young children of the same age as the original CDA certificate setting.
  3. Have an Early Childhood Education Reviewer complete a Recommendation Form regarding the CDA candidate’s competence with young children.
  4. Have documented proof of at least 45 hours of training or three semester credits in early childhood education/child development. This proof must be in the form of a college transcript or a Training Verification Form completed by the ECE Reviewer. Training must have been completed within the past three years.
  5. Have documented proof of current membership in a national or local early childhood professional organization.

 

Renewing with the CDA Council

  1. Download a free renewal packet from the CDA Council’s website
  2. Compile required documentation
  3. If eligible, apply for a CDA Renewal Scholarship
  4. Complete an application using the Council’s YourCDA online system and pay the fee ($125 for online applications and $150 for paper applications)
  5. Receive your CDA Renewal from the Council for Professional Recognition
TERMINOLOGY

Child Development Associate: A Child Development Associate (CDA) is a nationally recognized credential is based on a set of Competency Standards. CDA candidates have the knowledge to help children move with success from one developmental stage to another.

 

CDA Competency Standards: The CDA Competency Standards are the national guidelines used to evaluate a candidate’s performance with children and families during the CDA assessment process. The six Competency Standards are divided into 13 Functional Areas, which define what early childhood professionals should know and be able to do when working with young children. The Competency Standards can be applied to all child care settings.

 

CDA Competency Standards Book: The book contains all the documents candidates need for a CDA Verification Visit. Each book is customized for the selected child care setting and contains the requirements to earn a CDA Credential, instructions for the Professional Portfolio, Family Questionnaires, the observation tool used during the Verification Visit, and a paper application form.

 

CDA Content Areas: CDA Candidates must have 120 clock hours of formal child care education and in-service training. CDA training is broken into eight content areas. Candidates must have at least 10 hours in each area. The content areas are:

  1. Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
  2. Advancing children's physical and intellectual development
  3. Supporting children's social and emotional development
  4. Building productive relationships with families
  5. Managing an effective program operation
  6. Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  7. Observing and recording children's behavior
  8. Principles of child development and learning

 

Council for Professional Recognition: The Council sets the policies and procedures for assessment and credentialing, publishes the Competency Standards and other material used for CDA credentialing, and administers the assessment.

 

Early Childhood Education Reviewer: The ECE Reviewer is a professional who meets the education and experience requirements set out by the CDA Council to evaluate CDA renewal candidates. The ECE Reviewer will complete the Recommendation Form and Training Verification Form for the CDA renewal candidate.

 

Family Questionnaires: Asking parents to complete a questionnaire is one part of the CDA assessment process. Questionnaires allow parents to provide feedback on the candidate's strengths and areas for growth.

 

Pearson VUE Testing Center: The testing center where candidate will take their computerized CDA exam. The CDA exam must be taken within six months from the time of application.

 

Professional Portfolio: The portfolio is a collection of specific resources to help the candidate in their work with children and families. This is one part of the CDA assessment process.

 

Professional Development Specialist: The representative who acts as the official agent of the Council for Professional Recognition. The representative verifies documents required for the CDA and conducts the Verification Visit.

 

Settings: The CDA Credential is awarded for four child care settings and bilingual endorsements: preschool, infant/toddler, family child care and home visitor.

 

Verification Visit: A Professional Development Specialist comes to the candidate’s setting to determine whether all the requirements have been met and to observe the candidate working with children. The Verification Visit must happen within six months from the time of application.