Child Development Associate (CDA) certification demonstrates to potential employers and parents that the bearer of the certification is skilled at helping preschool age children develop intellectually, socially and emotionally. Despite the fact that states vary in requirements, the test to receive the CDA certification is given by the Council for Professional recognition.

History of the Council for Professional Recognition

The concept for the CDA credentials was initiated in 1971.
The concept for the CDA credentials was initiated in 1971.

While the concept of CDA credientials was initiated in 1971 to improve the quality of child care, the Council for Professional Recognition was founded in 1985 in Washington, D.C. The council set further standards and initiated continuing coursework that must be completed before an applicant is awarded the CDA certification and allowed to renew the license. According to the Council for Professional Recognition, the function of the CDA is designed to assess and credential early childhood care and education professionals based on performance.

Requirements for Certification

CDA applicant’s can begin accumulating credentials at 18 years of age.
CDA applicant’s can begin accumulating credentials at 18 years of age.

An applicant must at minimum be 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or GED. In addition, the applicant must have 120 hours of formal child care education or 12 college credit hours and 480 hours of experience working in a professional child care setting.

Types of Certifications

The CDA comes in three types
The CDA comes in three types

The applicant must specify when applying for the CDA what age group of children she will be working with. The separate certifications recognized are preschool age children (3 to 5) and infant/toddler (birth to 36 months). A certification for working in the home is called family child care certification.

Application Process

An online application is not yet available.
An online application is not yet available.

An application for the CDA can be handled in two ways. The first way is by requesting a certification packet by mail:

The Council for Professional Recognition, 2460 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20009-3575.

The forms can also be downloaded from the council's website.

As of May 2010, the CDA application fee is $325 and must be returned with the completed certification packet.

Continuing CDA Certification

Each CDA recipient is assigned an adviser for her career.
Each CDA recipient is assigned an adviser for her career.

Once certified, the CDA recipient will be periodically evaluated by his adviser from the Council for Professional Recognition. This evaluation usually takes place on an annual basis. The basis of evaluation revolves around a portfolio of work the CDA recipient is asked to maintain. The portfolio must contain surveys and evaluations from parents and the CDA recipient’s current employer.