According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of child care jobs is expected to increase by 11 percent by 2018. Many positions in child care centers, such as educator or lead teacher, require specific minimum training and experience qualifications. A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is one way to qualify for an entry-level child care teaching job.
Who Issues the CDA?
The Council for Professional Recognition issues all CDA credentials. This Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization provides routine credentialing of child care workers through the CDA program. Council members and staff are education professionals who work for colleges, universities and early education agencies, and are responsible for creating the policies, procedures and standards for attaining a CDA.
The first CDAs were granted In 1979 through the CDA Consortium in response to the need for a unified credentialing system to improve the quality and training of child care workers. The following year, Bank Street College (well-known for its early childhood education programming) became the main issuing institution. By 1985 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Association for the Education of Young Children took on the task of creating a new organization -- the Council for Professional Recognition -- that is solely responsible for the CDA. Since 1985 over 200,000 child care workers have earned CDAs from the Council for Professional Recognition. Although the CDA is not required for all child care jobs, 49 states and the District of Columbia use the CDA credential for child care licensing procedures.
Education Requirements to Earn a CDA
Child care workers must complete all educational, professional and assessment requirements to earn the CDA credential. Applicants must have 120 documented clock hours of formal early childhood or child development training. Training may come in many forms, such as work-related in-services, college or vocational school courses, and workshops from an education or child development agency. Specific training content in areas such as safety, health, child development, professionalism, establishing relationships with families, program operation and child observation are required.
Assessment Requirements for the CDA
The Council for Professional Recognition maintains a three-step CDA assessment plan. Applicants must prepare a Professional Resource File, collect Parent Opinion Questionnaires and complete an adviser-based assessment. The Professional Resource File includes material related to the applicant's experience in child care, such as lesson plans or awards. The Parent Opinion Questionnaire is a brief survey that asks parents (of children with whom the applicant has worked) about the knowledge and quality of care that the applicant provides. After these two requirements are completed, a CDA adviser will formally assess the applicant through a work-based observation.
Three child care settings are eligible for CDA credentialing. Eligible settings result in a Center-Based Credential for employees of preschools or other early childhood centers, a Family Child Care Credential for individuals who work in a home day care, or a Home Visitor Credential. Child care employees must work in one of these settings before applying for a CDA.