Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

What is the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA)?

The CDA is a national credential awarded by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition. Participants earn this credential based on specific standards (competencies) which cover the skills needed in working with infants and toddlers or preschoolers in group settings. There is a credential for people who provide care in child care centers and for people who provide care in family child care homes.

Register online or call 814-867-4973.

What do I have to do to earn it?

  • Complete 120 hours of formal child care training in specific subject areas. The training must be from an authorized early childhood education training organization, college or university.
  • Work with young children in group settings (480 hours within the last three years).
  • Document competence in child care through the:
    • professional portfolio
    • family questionnaires
    • classroom observation
    • exam administered at a Pearson VUE testing center
    • reflective dialogue with a CDA Professional Development Specialist
  • Apply to the council. 
  • Participate in a verification visit with a CDA Professional Development Specialist who reviews your portfolio and questionnaires, observes you in the classroom and talks with you about your early childhood care and education practices, then reports back to the council.
  • Wait for the council to review the exam results and the verification visit recommendations and render a decision about awarding the credential.

 The credential is valid for three years and must be periodically renewed. 

Will I receive college credit for the training?

Penn State York does not offer its CDA training as a credit course, but if you enroll in our associate degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Early Childhood Care and Education option, you may use the credit-by-exam process to gain credit for two required courses (6 credits out of a total of 60 credits required for the degree.) Contact Sonia Molloy at [email protected] for more information about the process.

The HDFS early childhood care and education option meets the requirements for Levels V and VI on the Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality Career Lattice. Over the years that Penn State York has offered CDA training, about 20 percent of those students have gone on to enroll in the associate degree and in the bachelor’s degree. In addition, Penn State York offers step-up certificates in human development and family studies, early childhood care and education. These certificates consist of specific courses, which, when both certificates are completed, consist of a total of 30 credits, half of the associate degree requirements.