About the Council for Professional Recognition

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Mission of the Council

The Council for Professional Recognition promotes improved performance and recognition of professionals in the early childhood education of children aged birth to 5 years old.

Vision of the Council

The Council works to ensure that all professional early childhood educators and caregivers meet the developmental, emotional, and educational needs of our nation’s youngest children.

The Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential

In keeping with its goal to meet the growing need for qualified early child care and education staff, the Council administers the Child Development Associate® (CDA) National Credentialing Program. The CDA Program is CDA_circle_logo_Gray_150pxdesigned to assess and credential early childhood education professionals.

The Council recognizes and credentials professionals who work in all types of early care and education programs - Head Start, pre-k, infant-toddler, family child care, and home visitor programs.

The Council sets policies and procedures for assessment and credentialing, publishes the Competency Standards and other materials used for CDA credentialing, and administers the assessment.

History of the CDA Credential

In the early 1970s, a group of innovative early childhood educators gathered together to think about how to improve the quality of early care and education. The concept for the CDA Credential was born out of those meetings and was initially funded by what was then called the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF). After several years of development, the first CDA was awarded in 1975.

In 1985, ACYF entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for the purpose of creating a separate nonprofit organization to administer the CDA Credential. That organization, the Council for Professional Recognition, began administering the CDA on September 1, 1985.

Over 300,000 CDA credentials have been awarded to date, with approximately 18,000 early childhood professionals becoming new CDAs annually.