The Child Development Associate (CDA) is a credential awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition, headquartered in Washington, D.C. The CDA recognizes skills of early childhood caregivers and education professionals. It is designed for individuals who have work experience in child care settings and is often considered to be a key entry-level credential in the field of early childhood education.

The CDA credential is different from the associate degree in Early Childhood Education awarded by KCC. KCC provides classes for academic credit which may be used toward the completion of CDA training requirements. These classes may also be applied toward the completion of an Associate in Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Education.

The CDA Council sets assessment procedures. Individuals need to follow these procedures and apply to the Council for assessment. An assessment fee is payable to the Council by the candidate for assessment. For more information about costs, please visit the CDA Council website.

The Benefits of CDA Credential

  • Advance your career
  • Meet job requirements
  • Reinforce your commitment to early childhood education
  • Provide parents with peace of mind
  • Understand developmentally appropriate practice
  • Increase your confidence
  • Meet licensing requirements

CDA Training Requirements

KCC offers classes meeting the CDA training requirements of a minimum of 120 clock hours of formal training distributed over eight specific content areas. The candidate must earn a minimum of 10 clock hours of training in each area.

Training must meet Council guidelines to apply toward completion of this requirement. The required content areas are:

  • Planning a safe, healthy learning environment
  • Steps to advance children’s physical and emotional development
  • Positive ways to support children’s social and emotional development
  • Strategies to establish productive relationships with families
  • Strategies to manage an effective program operation
  • Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  • Observing and recording children’s behavior
  • Principles of child growth and development

What Courses Should You Take?

In order to meet the minimum 120 clock-hour requirement, it is recommended that CDA candidates complete at lest eight credits spread over three ECE courses. CDA candidates should choose one CDA Core course and two CDA Elective courses.

CDA Core Courses

Choose one (courses are three credits each):

  • ECE 209: Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education

CDA Elective Courses

Choose two (courses are three credits each unless noted):

  • ECE 210: Child Growth and Development
  • ECE 215: Positive Child Guidance
  • ECE 219: Creative Arts and Movement for Young Children
  • ECE 224: Introduction to Early Childhood Education
  • ECE 232: Infant and Toddler Care
  • ECE 233: Early Childhood Environments
  • ECE 260: Positive Relationships with Families
  • ECE 262: Topics in Early Childhood 2 (two credits)

To qualify for program director requirements, CDA candidates may consider taking ECE 240: Child Care Administration (three credits).

The CDA Council determines what training will be accepted from each CDA candidate. The KCC ECE Program recommends coursework to the best of staff’s knowledge. It is up to the candidate to communicate with the Council in advance to assure that he or she is making the appropriate training decisions. The Council makes changes to update CDA programming on a regular basis. CDA candidates are encouraged to review council guidelines. For more information, please visit the CDA Council website. 

Where to Start

Individuals interested in starting CDA training at KCC should contact KCC’s Early Childhood and Teacher Education Office at 269-565-2109 to arrange an appointment with a program advisor. The advisor will guide each student individually prior to registration.

Prospective CDA trainees should also contact the Council for Professional Recognition at 800-424-4310 to request a direct assessment packet before beginning their training.