Why Earn a CDA Credential?

Are you beginning an Early Childhood Education career? Are you unsure on where to start courses in Early Childhood Education? The Child Development Associate Credential is a great place to start your Professional Development. This credential provides basic skills and education for someone who is starting a career. There are several types of CDA’s. When choosing a credential, candidates will choose the option that relates to the work setting, such as Preschool, Infant/Toddler, Family Child Care, or Home Visitor.  There is also a CDA that can be earned in high school, which is the Early Childhood Career and Technical Education (CTE) option.

Candidates for the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential develop an understanding of the six competency standards. These standards help an educator become qualified teachers of young children. The six competency standards are:

  1. To establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment.
  2. To advance physical and intellectual competence.
  3. To support social and emotional development and provide positive guidance.
  4. To establish positive and productive relationships with families.
  5. To ensure a well-run, purposeful program responsive to participants needs.
  6. To maintain a commitment to professionalism.

When CDA candidate develops an understanding of each of the standards, he/she is able to help children move with success from one  developmental milestone to the next. Professionals who have earned the CDA Credential know how to nurture children to develop social skills, regulate emotions, improve gross motor and fine motor skills, develop language and literacy skills, as well as cognitive skills.

For teachers who are new to Early Childhood Education (ECE), the Child Development Associate Credential is a very useful way to meeting education requirements.  In Wisconsin, the YoungStar Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) encourages organizations to support staff in obtaining a CDA, Associate Degree or Bachelor’s Degree. Many organizations will reimburse staff for the cost of the courses or participate in the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship program. Some organizations offer the courses as correspondence or online for credit or non-credit.

Head Start, for example requires that teaching assistants in center-based programs to have a CDA Credential.  If the teaching assistant does not, he/she must be enrolled in a CDA credential program that will be completed within two years.  The other option is to have an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in any subject or be enrolled in a program leading to a degree.  Early Head Start teachers  are required to have a CDA credential for Infant and Toddler Caregivers, or an equivalent credential that addresses comparable competencies within one year of hire as a teacher of infants and toddlers.


If you choose to work towards a CDA, there are several colleges that offer the credit courses. The courses consist of Introduction to Early Childhood Education, Health, Safety and Nutrition, Curriculum in Early Childhood Classroom, Child Growth and Development and one or two courses required by the college.   It is to your benefit to take the credit courses, rather than the non-credit courses, because you may want to continue in the Early Childhood Profession.  This way you will have credits towards an Associate Degree.

The Child Development Associate Credential provides ECE teacher with professional development which leads to understanding child development. Many candidates gain confidence and parents feel more comfortable knowing that the educator has completed specialized training to work with children.  Education requirements are increasing for certification in Wisconsin’s YoungStar, as well as Early Head Start and Head Start programs, the CDA Credential is a starting point for early childhood educators. For CDA candidates who take the courses for credit, the courses are likely will count towards an Associate Degree. This helps to advance in the Early Childhood Education career.

For more information on the Child Development Associate Credential go to the Council for Professional Recognition website.

Applying for a CDA Credential


About mosaic4learning

I am Child Development Professional experience in training and Professional Development. I have presented at Pre-Service or In-Service for Head Start Programs, Child Care Centers and Preschools. Presentations include, but not limited to Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention, Dual Language Learners in ECE, Cultural Diversity, and Inclusion. C.L.A.S.S. Certified Observer (Preschool) Environmental Rating Scales (ITERS, ECERS) Professional Development Specialist for Child Development Associate (CDA)
This entry was posted in CDA Verification Visits, Professional Development, School Readiness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Earn a CDA Credential?

  1. So glad to meet another who believes in developmentally appropriate education
    for young children!


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