The Child Development Associate (CDA) certification is a professional credential in the field of early childhood education. The Council for Professional Recognition (CPR) offers this credential to childcare employees, daycare workers, and pre-school teachers across the United States. According to the council, as of 2010 there are more than 200,000 Child development Associates who have this credential. If you are a New Jersey childcare worker seeking a CDA you must follow the steps outlined by the CPR and the state.
Determine your eligibility to qualify for the CDA credential. You must be at least 18 years old, have a valid high-school diploma or GED, and meet all childcare experience and education guidelines. Qualifying candidates must have worked (paid or unpaid) with young children in a childcare/ educational setting for at least 480 clock hours over the last five years. Additionally, candidates must have completed 120 hours or more of child-development educational courses. In the state of New Jersey these can be taken through any approved college, agency, or organization. These educational venues list themselves as CDA-approved schools and may include an organization such as CARE Courses, a college such as Rutgers Camden Campus, or social-service agency such as the Newark Office of Children.
Obtain the CDA application packet from the Council for Professional Recognition (CPR). This packet will contain all of the materials that you will need to make a formal application, including the Competency Standards Book, parent questionnaire, and observation tools. Purchase the packet online from the CPR, or mail or fax a form you can download from its website.
Prepare all required materials. This includes a Professional Resource File, Parent Opinion Questionnaire, and Assessment Observation Instrument. The Resource File contains information about the applicant's work with children, such as lesson plans or activities. The Parent Opinion Questionnaire, completed by parents of children the applicant has worked with, gives information about the applicant's ability in real-life situations. The Assessment Observation Instrument, completed by a CDA advisor, demonstrates the applicant's observed ability to work with young children.
Send to the CPR the following documents: the Professional Resource File, Parent Opinion Questionnaire, CDA Assessment Observation, documentation of training, and application. Include the assessment fee with your packet. As of 2010, the fee is $325.
Receive a Verification Visit. A representative from the CPR will come to the applicant to assess the status of all required documents, give an oral interview, and provide the Early Childhood Studies Review. The Review is a two-hour test that examines the applicant's knowledge of child development.
Receive your CDA credential from the Council. If you have completed all of the requirements to the council's satisfaction, you will be mailed your credential papers.
There is no state-level CDA. Do not expect a New Jersey CDA certificate and a CPR certificate. Only the CPR will send you a credential. This in turn can be given to your New Jersey employer as a valid credential.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.