The Child Development Associate Credential 

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ is a nationally recognized entry level credential in the field of Early Childhood Education. It is issued by the Council for Professional Recognition.
The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. It is designed for individuals who are working with young children in all types of early care and education programs - Head Start, pre-k, infant-toddler, family child care, and home visitor programs and prepares candidates to meet the specific needs of children and work with parents and other adults to nurture children's physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child development framework. 

Earning the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ has many advantages, including exposure to the larger community of early childhood educators. Over 370,000 educators have received their CDA to date! Becoming a CDA is a big commitment, but one that creates confident practitioners with command of today’s best practices for teaching young children.

For more information on the Council for Professional Recognition and Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ check out the Council’s website

For information on how the Preschool Enrichment Team can assist educators in obtaining their CDA see below:

Yes a PET consultant can meet with you to introduce the CDA components and work with you to develop a plan for obtaining your CDA that will work for you.

Contact our office with your questions
No. PET can help educators to obtain their CDA’s in many ways, though.
As a training organization with an expertise in early childhood teacher preparation, PET offers many trainings and courses that CDA candidates can use towards the required 120 hours of training in the eight subject areas required for CDA candidates. Candidates can accumulate their hours from a single training program or a combination of programs. All PET trainings that result in EEC hours or CEU’s can be used toward the CDA education requirement.
Yes depending on funding PET will offer CDA preparation courses in face to face (Spanish and English), online, and blended (online and face to face) formats.
P.E.T. has also developed an Accelerated Track CDA program which will be offered depending on funding. It is a 6 month, 60 clock-hour-course in the eight subject areas. Participants are required to document that they have earned 60 hours in the eight subject areas from other P.E.T. trainings or from other agencies before enrolling.
No, there are other requirements, including that all CDA candidates must purchase the most recent copy of the CDA book “The Child Development Associate National Credentialing Program and CDA Competency Standards” for Preschool, Infant-Toddler, or Family Child Care for $25.00. These books include everything the candidate will need to prepare and apply for the CDA credential for their setting from the Council for Professional Recognition.
The CDA candidate must have at least 480 hours of experience working with children in the setting (Preschool, Infant-Toddler, or Family Child Care) they are applying for. They must prepare a Professional Portfolio which includes Family Questionnaires, First Aid and CPR verification, six statements of competence, a professional philosophy statement, and a resource collection. The requirements for the Professional Portfolio are quite specific and are outlined in the CDA book.
Depending on format and funding, PET course instructors may offer assistance with compiling the required professional portfolio and consultation in preparation for the CDA exam and the Verification Visit. For example, the Accelerated Track CDA program includes sessions on Developing the Professional Portfolio, four 2-hour sessions in four of the six months.
The online course which is offered in partnership with Smart Horizons grants CEU’s for the 120 hours of training but includes no instructor support unless it is being offered as part of a blended model with a PET instructor.
Depending on funding, PET may subsidize part or all of the training, the CDA book, or application fees.
A CDA Professional Development PD specialist will review the Professional Portfolio and observe the candidate in their setting during the Verification Visit. The candidate also takes a written test.
No, a CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist conducts the Verification Visit.
No, the CDA candidate finds their own PD Specialist as part of the application procedure.
No, the candidate goes to a Pearson testing center to take the test. Pearson testing centers are located at some community colleges (currently at HCC in Holyoke, STCC in Springfield, and Mount Wachusett in Gardner), at Pearson Professional Centers (currently in Springfield and in Albany, NY), at the Enfield Adult and Continuing Education in Enfield, Connecticut and at the Windham Regional Career Center in Brattleboro, VT.
The CDA Credential is valid for three years from the date of award or renewal. Currently the renewal packet costs $15.00 and the application fee for renewal is $75.00 if candidate applies online. Renewal candidates must be a member of a professional early childhood organization, complete a college course or 4.5 CEU course, submit a letter of recommendation, and hold current First Aid and CPR certification.
Please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have regarding the CDA.


413-736-3900 ext 220