Child Development Associate Program Q&A

What is a CDA?

The Child Development Associate (CDA) is a nationally recognized credential that requires 480 hours of experience working with children and 120 clock hours of formal training/education within a five year period.The CDA credential is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC, which represents the early childhood education profession.

CDA is the only major national effort to improve early childhood education and care by evaluation and recognition of the skills of individuals providing care.  The first Credential was awarded in 1971, and now 49 states plus the District of Columbia include CDA in their childcare licensing regulations.


Why get a CDA?

The CDA Credential is recognition of outstanding work with young children.  The CDA demonstrates that the individual has the education and ability to work with children and their families to develop children’s physical, social, and intellectual capabilities in a safe and healthy learning environment.  A CDA Credential is recognized as an indicator of quality and competence by early childhood professionals nationwide.


How do I get a CDA?

Applying for a CDA assessment is a big commitment on top of an important job of childcare.  However working towards a CDA Credential can be a rewarding experience.  The CDA Competency Standards which list the skills needed by providers in specific childcare settings serve as a means for measuring the overall performance of caregivers during the CDA assessment process.  Assessment is available to caregivers working in several settings.  The candidate chooses from:

    • CENTER BASED SETTINGS: Infant/Toddler Endorsement or Preschool Endorsement

The CDA Candidate must be at least 18 years old, and have a H.S. Diploma or GED.


Do I Need College Classes?

Candidates must document a total of 120 clock hours of formal education, within the past 5 years, with no fewer than 10 clock hours in each of 8 specified content areas.  Candidate must submit training documentation in the form of an official letter (on letterhead), certificate or transcript from the training agency or institution.  The Council for Professional Recognition does not accept conference workshop hours.

The 120 hours of training can be obtained at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College by taking three designated Early Childhood Education classes.  Classes offered at KBOCC meet the requirements of the Council for Professional Recognition.    CDA training hours taken at KBOCC may later be applied toward credits needed for an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education.  


Mary DeLine, Department Chair of Early Childhood Education, is listed in the Council for Professional Recognition Advisor Registry as a direct assessment advisor and is able to conduct formal observations, assist the candidate with the Professional Resource File and the Parent Opinion Questionnaires. Guidance with documentation requirements is offered as a 2 credit hour CDA Preparation Seminar.