Child Development Associate (CDA)

The Child Development Associate is an internationally recognized early childhood credential administered through the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC. Developed in 1974, the program identified basic staff competencies (skills) needed to provide competent care. The CDA represents an evaluation of the caregiver’s skills based on national standards and professional recognition within the childcare industry. It is a required interim credential for all ECAAP apprentices.

Certificates are awarded in several settings including:
  • Center-based
  • Family childcare
  • Home visitor
  • Bilingual
Center-based personnel may choose from the infant / toddler or preschool endorsement.

The CDA assessment is a process by which a caregiver’s competence is evaluated by the Council for Professional Recognition. In preparation for assessment the CDA candidate must document his/her skills in relation to the CDA Competency Standards.

Five components make up the documentation:
  • Professional resource file
  • Parent opinion questionnaires
  • CDA assessment observation instrument
  • Early childhood studies review
  • Oral interview
A committee makes the decision whether to award the CDA credential to the candidate who submits the results to the Council for review.

Two additional requirements include hands-on experience and education. Each candidate must have at least 480 hours of experience working with children in the chosen age groups and 120 clock hours of formal childcare education covering the 6 CDA competency goals and subject areas. This may be met through a wide variety of training available in the field, including college credit and in-service.