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Training and Education

Child Development Associate (CDA) Credentialing

Receiving the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a way for child care professionals to substantially increase their knowledge of the early care and education best practices, demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the area of early childhood care and education, and advance their career in a meaningful way.

Receiving the CDA Credential means you are able to:

  • Establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment for young children
  • Advance the physical and intellectual competence of young children
  • Support social and emotional development and to provide positive guidance
  • Establish positive and productive relationships with families
  • Ensure a well-run, purposeful program that is responsive to children's needs
  • Maintain a commitment to professionalism

CDA Facts:

  • The CDA Credential is given by the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC.
  • It is recognized by every state in the US, but each state can choose to accept it in a different way.
    • In New York, you can be a Group Teacher in a Child Care Center if that is the policy of the center. In New Jersey, having a CDA is not enough to be a group teacher.
    • Assistant Teachers in Head Start centers must have a CDA Credential.
  • There are 3 different CDA Credentials
    • Infant Toddler (birth to 36 months)
    • Preschool (3-5)
    • Family Child Care (birth to age 5)
  • To get the CDA Credential you must take a 120 hour CDA course and apply to the Council for Professional Recognition. From beginning a class to receiving the credential can take about 1 year.
  • The CDA Credential must be renewed every 3 years. You will have to have worked 80 hours with the age group of your CDA in the year before you renew. You will have to have taken 45 hours of professional development in those three years that focuses on your work with the children in the classroom.

How to Receive the CDA Credential

Step 1: Take the 120-hour CDA class offered by the Child Care Council. A CDA class takes 8-9 months to complete. The Child Care Council offers different CDA Classes:

  • Our in-person 120 hour class for infant-toddler and family child care program teachers
  • Our in-person 120 hour class for preschool teachers 
  • Our in-person 120 hour class in Spanish for people working with infants/toddlers/preschoolers and family programs 
  • Our online 120 hour class - infant-toddler, preschool or family child care - with some in-person support. This class can be started any time.

Step 2: As part of the CDA class, create a required Professional Portfolio.

Step 3: Apply to the Council for Professional Recognition for the CDA credential ONLY after you:

  • complete 120 hour CDA class AND
  • work 480 hours with either infants/toddlers, preschool age children, or in a family child care in the 3 years prior to submitting your application (you can accumulate your hours while receiving your CDA credential) AND
  • pay the application/assessment fee of $425 for the online application. You will be eligible for EIP funding for the fee.

Step 4: Wait for the Council for Professional Recognition to process your application and notify you.

Step 5: Demonstrate the skills needed to work with children and their families during a 2-3 hour Validation Visit conducted by a representative of the Council for Professional Recognition.

Step 6: Complete an electronic test on the course at a nearby Pearson VUE testing center.

Applicants Must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be working in a child care program
  • Be able to speak, read and write in English or Spanish fluently enough to fulfill the responsibilities of a CDA candidate

​For information about the CDA Credential and our CDA classes, complete this form.

Child Development Associate (CDA) Training Options

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