We hear this ques­tion a lot here at Care Cours­es! So, How do you get a CDA credential?

All of the infor­ma­tion in this post applies to earn­ing the Fam­i­ly Child Care CDA, the Preschool Cen­ter-Based CDA, and the Infant Tod­dler Cen­ter-Based CDA.

(For infor­ma­tion on the Home Vis­i­tor CDA, which has dif­fer­ent require­ments, please click here: Home Vis­i­tor CDA require­ments.)

Here are the four steps to earning your national CDA:

How do I get my national CDA

As a CDA can­di­date you will pre­pare for your appli­ca­tion, com­plete the appli­ca­tion process, and then demon­strate your knowl­edge to earn your CDA credential.

First: Prepare to apply for the National CDA

Before apply­ing for your CDA (these items can be done simultaneously):

Receive your high school diploma or equivalent.

Required time frame: Must be com­plet­ed before apply­ing for your CDA.

Complete 120 hours of formal childcare education covering the 8 CDA subject areas. 

Vis­it our CDA cre­den­tial train­ing page to learn more about our CDA training.

Required time frame? Must be com­plet­ed before you can sub­mit your appli­ca­tion for your CDA. We rec­om­mend that you get your train­ing done no more than five years before you apply. You will want this edu­ca­tion fresh in your mind when you take your final CDA Exam and have your Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Visit.

Work 480 hours with children in one of the following settings.

Infant/Toddler Cen­ter-Based*, Preschool Cen­ter-Based**, or Fam­i­ly Child Care***

Required time frame? With­in 3 years! You must com­plete this work with­in 3 years before apply­ing for your CDA. Your work expe­ri­ence can­not be more than 3 years from the date you apply for your CDA.

Purchase a CDA Competency Standards book from the CDA Council for your setting.

(Infant/Toddler, Preschool, or Fam­i­ly). Once you get the book, pre­pare your port­fo­lio (which is described in detail in the book). Steps you must fol­low when you cre­ate your portfolio:

o   Cre­ate a cov­er sheet for your port­fo­lio
o   Com­plete your edu­ca­tion sum­ma­ry sheet and assem­ble your tran­scripts and/or cer­tifi­cates from your 120 hours of for­mal child­care train­ing
o   Dis­trib­ute and col­lect fam­i­ly ques­tion­naires
o   Fin­ish your fam­i­ly ques­tion­naire sum­ma­ry sheet (after read­ing the fam­i­ly ques­tion­naires you col­lect­ed)
o   Com­plete your reflec­tive dia­logue sheet
o   Gath­er your resource col­lec­tion items
o   Cre­ate your pro­fes­sion­al phi­los­o­phy statement

Required time frame? With­in 6 months before appli­ca­tion! You must com­plete your pro­fes­sion­al port­fo­lio with­in 6 months of apply­ing for your CDA, so be sure to order the book with plen­ty of time to com­plete the require­ments. Your port­fo­lio can­not be com­plet­ed more than 6 months before you apply.

Complete “Director’s Permission Statement.”

o   Can­di­dates apply­ing for Cen­ter-Based CDAs: Have your direc­tor fill out the per­mis­sion state­ment por­tion of your appli­ca­tion as you will be need­ing their per­mis­sion to con­duct your ver­i­fi­ca­tion visit.

o   Can­di­dates apply­ing for a Fam­i­ly Child Care CDA: Fill out the per­mis­sion state­ment por­tion of your appli­ca­tion your­self. If you are sub­mit­ting online, you must include an email address that dif­fers from the one you use to log in.

Second: Apply for your CDA

Apply­ing for the CDA includes the fol­low­ing tasks:

  • Select a Pro­fes­sion­al Devel­op­ment Spe­cial­ist at CDACouncil.org (or call the Coun­cil for assis­tance) and obtain their ID number. 
  • Sub­mit your com­plet­ed appli­ca­tion online at CDACouncil.org/YourCDA ($425)

After the Coun­cil has received your appli­ca­tion, they will send you a “ready to sched­ule” noti­fi­ca­tion. This noti­fi­ca­tion will allow you to sched­ule an appoint­ment with your Pro­fes­sion­al Devel­op­ment Specialist.

Third: Demonstrate your abilities and knowledge

Once you’ve received your ready to sched­ule noti­fi­ca­tion from the Coun­cil, you will sched­ule your Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Vis­it and your CDA Exam for a date with­in the next 6 months. You can do either the exam or the vis­it first – there is no order in which these must be completed.

The Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Vis­it and CDA Exam pro­vide you oppor­tu­ni­ty to demon­strate your child­care knowl­edge, skills, and prac­ti­cal experience.

And Finally … Earn your CDA!

Learn­ing whether the Coun­cil has award­ed you a CDA Cre­den­tial is the final step in the cre­den­tial­ing process. The Coun­cil will noti­fy you of their deci­sion to award or deny your CDA. This typ­i­cal­ly takes 10 days to 2 weeks from the date you com­plete all the requirements.

* Infant/Toddler Cen­ter-Based: This age group is defined as chil­dren aged birth to 3 years. Your work expe­ri­ence must be in a child care cen­ter and include expe­ri­ence with each of the three infant/toddler sub-groups: young infants (birth–8 months), mobile infants (9–17 months), and tod­dlers (18–36 months).

** Preschool Cen­ter-Based: This age group is defined as chil­dren aged 3 through 5 years. Your work expe­ri­ence must be in a child care center.

*** Fam­i­ly Child Care Home CDA can­di­dates must work with chil­dren aged birth through 5 years.

Care Cours­es pro­vides sup­port through­out your CDA train­ing and after. We are here to help make this expe­ri­ence pleas­ant and rewarding!

Want to know what you can do with a CDA? Check out our blog on how you can use your CDA!

Care Courses Support

Please let us know how we can assist you fur­ther with the CDA process! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!

One response to “How do I get a CDA credential?”

  1. […] train­ing. You can even use the reim­burse­ments to get the train­ing you need to renew or apply for your CDA […]

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