CDA Credential

Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

A Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is the most widely recognized credential in the early childhood field and is a key stepping stone on the path to career advancement. The CDA Credential is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early learning professionals in their work to build on their professional experience and expertise.

As a nationally recognized credential, a CDA Credential enables early learning professionals to work in Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, in addition to early learning programs across the United States of America. Several topics are studied in a CDA program, including, but not limited to:

    • health and safety in the classroom;
    • cognitive, physical, language, and literacy development;
    • program and classroom management;
    • creating positive relationships with families;
    • the process to becoming a program director or owner;
    • lesson development and implementation;
    • and more.

By earning a CDA Credential, early learning professionals strengthen their professional skill sets, gain opportunities to advance their careers, increase their confidence in the classroom, and reinforce their commitment to support young children and families.

 


 

CDA Credential Preparation Program

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 credentials.

This program is intended for early learning professionals in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 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.

A limited number of computers are available for individuals who do not have access to a computer at home. These devices must be returned at the end of the program.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this program, individuals must:

    • reside in the state of Pennsylvania,
    • have obtained a high school diploma or GED,
    • work in a Keystone STARS early learning program, and
    • work a minimum average of 25 hours per week over an entire work year (during non-COVID times).

Request More Information

If you are interested in participating in Trying Together’s CDA Credential Preparation Program, please complete our CDA Credential Program Interest Form. Please note that this form is utilized for inquiry purposes only and is only available to professionals in Pennsylvania.

After completing the form, a member of our staff will contact you to determine your eligibility and identify a CDA pathway that works best for you. Requests for information are answered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Questions

For general questions about the program, contact Theresa Hetler at theresa@tryingtogether.org, Lindsey Vicoria at lindseyv@tryingtogether.org, or Jasmine Davis at jasmine@tryingtogether.org.

 


 

CDA Credential Community of Practice Program

Trying Together’s CDA Credential Community of Practice (CoP) Program is intended for individuals who have completed the necessary hours and requirements for a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. During the Community of Practice Program, participants will explore the current theory, research, and best practices related to early childhood. Participants will also focus on the completion of the CDA Credential portfolio requirements, as well as preparation for the CDA Credential exam.

This program includes a range of teaching methods, including distance learning, synchronous class sessions, classroom activities, whole group and small group discussions, weekly assignments, and assigned videos. A limited number of computers are available for individuals who do not have access to a computer at home. These devices must be returned at the end of the program.

Program Objectives

Through the program, participants will:

    • understand in detail the 13 functional areas of the CDA and how they relate to Competency Standards in Pennsylvania,
    • demonstrate their knowledge by building a portfolio using the CDA Competency Standards and additional resources,
    • prepare for the CDA Credential exam by reflecting on the essentials structured around the competency standards and functional areas, and
    • complete the application process for the Council of Recognition CDA exam.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this program, individuals must:

    • be employed at a Pennsylvania Keystone STARS affiliated early childhood program, school, or agency,
    • have completed at least 80 hours of professional development training OR completed nine credits in an early childhood education program at an accredited college (transcripts are strongly recommended),
    • have completed or will complete at least 480 hours of work in an early childhood program, school, agency, or therapeutic setting by the end of the CoP program,
    • have obtained a high school diploma or GED, and
    • have the following clearances up-to-date while meeting the local requirements of the field placement site: FBI Fingerprint Clearance, a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Clearance, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Child Abuse History Clearance, and National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) Clearance.

Request More Information

If you are interested in participating in Trying Together’s Community of Practice Program, please complete our CDA Credential Program Interest Form. Please note that this form is utilized for inquiry purposes only and is only available to professionals in Pennsylvania.

After completing the form, a member of our staff will contact you to determine your eligibility and identify a CDA pathway that works best for you. Requests for information are answered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Questions

For general questions about the program, contact Theresa Hetler at theresa@tryingtogether.org, Lindsey Vicoria at lindseyv@tryingtogether.org, or Jasmine Davis at jasmine@tryingtogether.org.

 


 

CDA Credential Renewal Program

Trying Together’s CDA Credential Renewal Program offers support to early learning professionals in Pennsylvania who are interested in renewing their CDA Credential. Facilitated through distance learning, participants will be required to complete online course materials via Schoology and attend live Zoom meetings on a weekly basis.

A limited number of computers are available for individuals who do not have access to a computer at home. These devices must be returned at the end of the program.

Learning Objectives

Through this program, participants will:

    • review the current early childhood health and safety standards,
    • review current literature and resources that focus on the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development of children ages birth to six years old,
    • review strategies on how to build positive relationships with families that are guided by the current professional standards for working with infants, toddlers, and pre-kindergarten children and their families,
    • review materials and strategies for implementing observations and assessments in the classroom that support each child’s development and learning,
    • learn technology skills that are relevant to program management and continuous professional development, and
    • meet the criteria for eight early childhood subject areas (upon completion of the program).

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this program, individuals must:

    • have a current Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential that will expire in six months or less,
    • be employed at an early childhood program, school, agency, or therapeutic setting in Pennsylvania,
    • have completed at least 45 hours of professional development training, 4.5 CEUs, OR a three-credit-hour college course in eligible subject areas from the time they received their CDA Credential through the CDA Credential expiration date (within the last three years),
    • have completed at least 80 hours of work experience at an early childhood program, school, agency, or therapeutic setting (within the last year),
    • have a current First Aid and Infant and Child (Pediatric) CPR certification, and
    • have the following clearances up-to-date while meeting the local requirements of the field placement site: FBI Fingerprint Clearance, a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Clearance, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Child Abuse History Clearance, and National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) Clearance.

View the full CDA Renewal Process Overview Infographic.

Request More Information

If you are interested in participating in Trying Together’s CDA Renewal Program, please complete our CDA Credential Program Interest Form. Please note that this form is utilized for inquiry purposes only and is only available to professionals in Pennsylvania.

After completing the form, a member of our staff will contact you to determine your eligibility and identify a CDA pathway that works best for you. Requests for information are answered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Questions

For general questions about the program, contact Theresa Hetler at theresa@tryingtogether.org, Lindsey Vicoria at lindseyv@tryingtogether.org, or Jasmine Davis at jasmine@tryingtogether.org.

 


 

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 Lindsey Vicoria-Bucki at lindseyv@tryingtogether.org.

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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 dhs.pa.gov and education.pa.gov.