Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential
The Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education. It is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement. The program’s purpose is to enhance the quality of early child care by defining, evaluating, and recognizing the competence of early child care professionals across the country.
Obtaining your Child Development Associate (CDA) credential
The process for obtaining your CDA includes the following components.
Depending on your learning style and availability, there are a few different options for the training: face-to-face, online, and independent study.
For more details about the specific process and requirements, visit the CDA Council’s website
We offer face-to-face CDA courses in four parts, for a total of 120 hours. The time it takes for you to complete the entire program varies, depending on which class you take. No matter the class, it will take you no more than nine months to complete.
Your cost for the program may be as little as $100. The cost is actually $1,100, but scholarships are available through a number of generous partners including:
- IAEYC Non-formal CDA Project
- United Way Ministry / Family Child Care Home Project
- Goodwill / Excel Partnership
- Boner Place Partnership
Each program has its own individual requirements. You must meet these requirements in order to participate in your desired program.
Wait List as Classes Begin Throughout the Year
Our wait list form helps us learn more about you, determine what classes you qualify for, and what scholarships are available for the classes we have coming up. If there a match for an upcoming class, we’ll contact you to let you know when we have a spot available. Vea este formulario ene Español.
Have a great space to host a CDA class?
We are always looking for hosts for our day, evening, and weekend classes. We need safe and professional locations with appropriate seating for adult learners and parking (technology is a bonus!). If you are willing to host, fill out our form and we’ll contact you when a class is just the right fit.
You can complete professional hours through a wide variety of training organizations with expertise in early childhood. Such agencies include: a college or university, other resource and referral agencies, private training organizations, vocational or technical schools, or other approved early childhood training sites.
Smart Horizons Online Education Center offers Child Care Aware Training Academy online CDA courses for $299. Portfolio assistance is an additional $500. There is no scholarship assistance for these offerings. Learn more at the Smart Horizons website.
Child Care Answers also offers independent study. If you are currently finishing your hours and would like guidance on your next steps, we can help you:
- Complete your CDA professional portfolio
- Coordinate a verification visit with a Professional Development specialist
- Prepare for the CDA exam online
Renewing or Updating Your Expired CDA
First, congratulations on obtaining your CDA! All CDA credentials are valid for three years from the date of the award. There is also no longer a grace period for an expired CDA. Keep all documentation for trainings and other professional development from the date you earned your credential. We suggest you start the process of renewing about six months before your credential expires. All information you submit for a renewal goes directly to Washington D.C. to the CDA Council. Child Care Answers does not have any control or management over your CDA renewal.
If your CDA has expired, remember that your 120 hours do not expire. You will need to review and update your portfolio and reapply for the assessment process (verification visit and online exam).
If your CDA expired between January 1, 2007 and now, the The Council for Professional Recognition has waived the expiration! You may renew your CDA online up until March 30, 2018. Do not delay – there will be no exceptions or extensions.
If you currently work 30 or more hours per week in a licensed home/center or registered ministry, you might qualify for a T.E.A.C.H. renewal scholarship that pays 90% of the cost. If you meet those qualifications, complete the renewal scholarship form and send to T.E.A.C.H. as soon as possible. In order to use the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship, you must fill out the scholarship application and have it approved before renewing with the Council.