CDA & School-Age Credentials

Professional Development Organization (PDO)

The Professional Development Organization (PDO) is a grant-funded educational collaboration among four universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and numerous partner universities, colleges, and community programs across the state to advance the career pathways of the early childhood workforce. PDO funding covers tuition, expenses, and other supports to help eligible early childhood educators earn credit-bearing Child Development Associate (CDA) Credentials, Associate’s Degrees, and Bachelor’s Degrees.

Tuition-Free Courses

Tuition-free courses are eligible for early childhood professionals who:

    • are Pennsylvania residents,
    • work in a Keystone STARS program, and
    • work a minimum average of 25 hours per week over an entire work year (during non-COVID times).

To determine your eligibility, complete the online application. Once your eligibility is confirmed, a PDO Liaison from your region will contact you to discuss your professional development options.

Our Work

Trying Together and ELRC Region 5 are partnering with the Early Childhood Education PDO at PASSHE to provide community-based CDA programming. Trying Together provides an Early Childhood Liaison as a member of the PDO Lisiaon Network to establish and maintain relationships and connections with our region’s early childhood educators, programs, and professional preparatory organizations.

More Information

For more information, contact Mimi Loughead at

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Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

Trying Together’s Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential Preparation Program offers 135 hours of professional development over the course of six to nine months focused on practice knowledge and skills early learning professionals need to become credentialed. Program participants can matriculate up to nine course credits at Carlow University once they obtain their credential.

Trying Together offers this program at a community-based level with the support of various funding and development partners including: the PDO at PASSHE; Richard King Mellon Foundation; The Buhl Foundation; and The Pennsylvania Key.

Program Details

Through the program, early learning professionals:

    • focus on Competency Standards and Best Practices that support healthy early development in young children;
    • complete online coursework;
    • receive support from an experienced instructor; and
    • will be eligible to receive a nationally recognized credential upon completion.


By completing the online registration form, you will be placed on a program waitlist until spots are available in an upcoming cohort. Participants will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. You will receive more information about the course, upcoming cohorts, and anticipated timelines via email as spots open.

To add your name to the waitlist, complete this online form.

More Information

For more information, contact Mimi Loughead at



School-Age Professional Credential 2020-21

The Pennsylvania School-Age Professional Credential (SAPC) is a competency-based program modeled after the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. It provides individuals working in school-age programs the opportunity to examine their work in relation to the Pennsylvania School-Age Competency Standards.

A School-Age Professional Credential Course will be available online from October 20, 2020 to May 18, 2021. Course participants will digitally meet on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and there will be a self-paced weekly assignment that will take approximately two hours to complete.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this course, professionals must:

    • be working in a Department of Human Service regulated program that serves school-age children (age five to 12-years-old);
    • have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED credential;
    • complete an individual professional development plan; and
    • have worked at least 480 hours with school-age children.


This course is free to those who qualify. Textbooks are provided. Technology and child care supports are available. To apply, visit the PDO at PASSHE webpage.

More Information

For questions or more information, call 814.836.9295 or email

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All projects featured on this webpage are supported by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennsylvania’s Department of Education (PDE). For more information, visit and