Child Care Credentials - Child Development Associate Program

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

The Child Development Associate Program is aimed at individuals interested in studying the process of development of young children and would like to teach such children at childcare facilities. Participants in this program learn the basic principles of early childhood education and class discussions are varied to include topics such as safety, health, learning environments, discipline, family involvement, child development, professionalism, and so on.

People holding a CDA can apply for jobs as child care providers at day care centers or start their own child care service. In order for an applicant to be eligible for this program, he / she must:

  • Have at least a High School Degree
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a minimum of 480 hours of prior experience of working with young children

Information brochures and application packages for the CDA program are generally available at all local preschools, and day care centers. Once you apply for the CDA program, you should complete 120 hours of formal training of working with young children within 5 years. This training can be completed at any institution for childcare such as childcare colleges, referral agencies, workshops, childcare centers, and so forth.

The Childcare training comprises of 8 major areas. In order to complete the CDA program successfully, you must obtain a minimum of 10 hours training in each of these areas, listed below.

  • Planning a safe, healthy, learning environment.
  • Steps to advance children's physical and intellectual development.
  • Positive ways to support children's social and emotional development.
  • Strategies to establish productive relationships with families.
  • Strategies to manage an effective program operation.
  • Maintaining a commitment to professionalism.
  • Observing and recording children's behavior.
  • Principles of child growth and development.

The next step is to apply for Assessment. The application form for this will be provided in the CDA package. To be eligible for assessment you must have an advisor supervise you. The advisor needs to study your behavior with kids for 2 hours and submit his / her report. The application package would contain an assessment booklet that the advisor needs to complete and sign within 6 months of applying for assessment. Also, ask parents of children who are under you to fill up the Parent Questionnaires.

Finally, you need to complete the Professional Resource File also provided with the application. Once you have 120 hours of training, completed and signed assessment report, and the professional resource file, you may apply for CDA to a National Representative. Details would be included in the CDA package.

You will soon hear from the National Representative, who will then administer a written test and oral interview. The National Representative would also collect all documents mentioned above along with a copy of competency goal statements. All these will then be sent to the Council for Professional Recognition that will review your application and decide whether you would be issued a CDA credential.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,