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Child Development Associate Credential

Child Development Associate (CDA) is an individual who has successfully completed a CDA assessment and has been awarded the CDA Credential. S/he is able to meet the specific needs of children and works with parents and other adults to nurture children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child development framework.

A CDA would also demonstrate competence in her/his ability to meet the CDA Competency Goals through her/his work in a center-based, home visitor or family child care program.

The Credential is awarded for three child care settings:

1) Center-based, for which Candidates receive endorsements to work with infants and toddlers or preschool children;

2) Family Child Care; and

3) Home Visitor.


Announcing the CDA Renewal Amnesty Program

If you have a CDA with a credential date of January 2002 or later, you are eligible for the Renewal Amnesty Program that allows anyone who has earned a CDA in the last 10 years to apply for a renewal even if their CDA has expired.  Contact the CDA council for more information.  This program is only from March 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.

CDA and Family Child Care

The "CDA Competency Standards and Assessment System for Family Child Care Providers" have been developed to define, evaluate, and to recognize the skills needed to offer competent care to young children in the family child care setting. The Competency Standards define the skills needed to both manage a well-run program in the home and to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The standards do not attempt to impose center-like or formal routines on family child care homes. Instead, they support the unique value of the flexible home environment and the diversity of individual providers.

Applying for CDA assessment is a big commitment on top of the job that requires long hours managing a full house and meeting the many needs of young children. However, working towards a CDA Credential can be a rewarding experience. It offers family child care providers an opportunity to:

  • Take a look at their own work in relation to national standards
  • Get feedback and support from people who have experience with family child care and knowledge about child development
  • Improve their skills in ways that are satisfying for themselves and beneficial for children
  • Earn a professional Credential that is recognized by early childhood educators nationwide

CDA and Preschool or Infant/Toddler Staff (Center-based)

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Competency Standards and Assessment System support quality programs for preschool children by providing standards for training, evaluation, and recognition of teachers and caregivers based on their ability to meet the unique needs of this age group. A preschool teacher or Infant/Toddler caregiver is a special person in children's lives as they master skills, develop friendships, grow in independence, and move to new levels of thinking and understanding about themselves and the world. It is an exciting and challenging responsibility to set up a supportive learning environment for a group of young children, develop a relationship with each one, and meet their needs as individuals and as a group. Children's learning experiences during this period in their lives can increase their self-confidence and readiness for elementary school.

CDA and Home Visitors

Home visitors are the primary staff who carry out a home-based child development program. They must be knowledgeable and experienced in all areas of child development in order to help parents appreciate the rapid growth and development of their children and meet their changing needs as young infants, mobile infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. They must be familiar with and sensitive to the community where the families live. They must be skilled adult educators who are able to establish a trusting working relationship with clients--supporting their self-confidence, growth, and development both as parents and as individuals. In addition, they must be able to work cooperatively with other program staff and establish links with community agencies providing family services such as health care, nutrition counseling, mental health, and social services.

The CDA Competency Standards and assessment system for home visitors have been developed to define, evaluate, and recognize the skills needed to offer competent support to parents of young children. The Competency Standards define the skills needed both to manage a program of home visits and to help parents meet the needs of their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.