Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential


Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is the most widely recognized national 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.

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: CDA Online Course with Portfolio Support

We are now accepting applications for one online CDA course with portfolio support, taking place September 11 through March 12, The course includes five face-to-face meetings to work on your required portfolio.

All face-to-face meetings will take place from 6:00-8:30pm at Early Learning Indiana, 1776 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis.

For the cost of $299, you receive your education hours through:

  • Online instruction:  120 hours through the Child Care Aware of AmericaTM online CDA course. We expect you to complete six hours of online time per week at your convenience.
  • Face-to-face instruction: You are REQUIRED to attend five classes, which are taught by a Masters-level instructor.  Classes meet on Tuesdays from 6:00pm-8:30pm at Early Learning Indiana offices. Scheduled dates are currently September 18, October 30, December 11, January 29, and March 12.

You will also receive:

  • Portfolio support
  • Materials for portfolio (binder, sheet protectors, labels)
  • CDA Competency Standards book
  • Post-class advising through the CDA Assessment process

To qualify to participate in this program, you must:

  • Submit a high school diploma, equivalency, or transcript in electronic format.
  • Be working in child care as of June 1, 2018. We require you to submit an electronic copy of a pay stub or other documentation confirming employment as part of the application process.
  • Electronically submit a copy of your driver’s license or state ID.
  • Be in good standing with T.E.A.C.H. Your employer must also be in good standing.
  • Have access to reliable internet and a computer, plus the ability to easily use them. All assignments will be uploaded electronically.
  • Be able to read and write in English at an 8th grade level. You will be required to take a short reading-level test to demonstrate this ability.

Fill out our registration form.  Have ready copies of your diploma/transcripts, pay stubs, and driver’s license.

We will notify you of your status (accepted or denied) within five business days.

Upon acceptance, we will contact you on how/where to make the $299 payment. We must receive payment in full by Thursday, August 30 before registering you for the program.

We require that you take a short reading-level test to ensure you can read and write at the level expected to successfully complete the CDA course.

Orientation, as it is for every face-to-face class, is REQUIRED.  The Tuesday cohort orientation takes place September 11 at 6:00pm held at Early Learning Indiana, 1776 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis.

First classes are Tuesday, September 18 at 6:00pm at Early Learning Indiana. Other scheduled dates are currently October 30, December 11, January 29, and March 12.

Online courses begin only after you have completed the above steps.  This will be reviewed during Orientation.


Have copies of these ready to submit electronically:

  • High school diploma, equivalency, or transcript
  • Pay stub or other documentation confirming your employment on or before June 1, 2018
  • Driver’s license or state ID

Obtaining your Child Development Associate (CDA) credential

The process for obtaining your CDA includes the following components.

  • 120 clock hours of formal training in specific areas
  • A portfolio
  • Family questionnaires
  • A verification visit
  • An online exam

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 $1,300, 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.

NOTE: We are not enrolling for Indiana Non Formal CDA classes (100% face-to-face) at this time but will contact you as a class becomes available.

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.

Online training and Independent study

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.

Child Care Aware® of America Training Academy offers online CDA courses for $299.  There is no scholarship assistance for these offerings. Learn more at the Child Care Aware® of America Training Academy website or see the available CDA credential packages available at the Child Care Aware Online Child Care Professional Education Center.

You may complete the 120 education hours through various organizations as independent trainings. If you are currently finishing your hours and would like guidance on your next steps, we can help you:

  • Complete your CDA professional portfolio (for groups of 4 or more)
  • Coordinate a verification visit with a Professional Development specialist
  • Prepare for the CDA exam online
Connect with Mollie for guidance on next steps

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 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.  Please see the bottom of the scholarship form for mailing address and fax number. 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.