CDA PD Specialist™ System FAQs

Get answers to commonly asked questions about the PD Specialist system.


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About the CDA PD Specialist™ System

The PD Specialist is responsible for completing the CDA Verification Visit® with the candidate. The PD Specialist reviews the candidate’s documentation, observes the candidate working with children, and conducts a reflective dialogue with the candidate. At the end of the visit, the PD Specialist electronically submits the candidate’s scores to the Council via the Scoring Tool in the PDS Portal.

The requirements to become a PD Specialist can be found here. We encourage any qualified individual to consider being a PD Specialist. In addition, PD Specialists must have access to the internet and an active email account.

Yes. PD Specialists receive a $100 per Candidate honorarium. The PD Specialist may not charge the candidate any fees.

The PD Specialist honorarium only applies to the CDA Verification Visit®. This is the only service the PD Specialist is authorized to perform on the Council’s behalf.

The PD Specialist should check their Scoring Tool often. Once a candidate appears, they are confirmed as Ready to Schedule and can proceed with scheduling the CDA Verification Visit®.

The observation takes place on a regular program day during a mutually agreed upon time period, when the PD Specialist will have the greatest opportunity to observe the candidate as the primary caregiver working with a group of young children or home visitor conducting a family visit.

The PDS Portal is now YourCouncil. In YourCouncil approved PD Specialists can update their contact information, review training, check to see if a candidate is Ready to Schedule and submit candidate scores to the Council.

YourCouncil can be accessed by clicking the blue “YourCouncil” button in the upper footer at the bottom of the page or or by typing in your web browser.

Approved PD Specialists can also request to join the PDS Community page to access additional resources, tutorials, podcasts and more!

“R.O.R.” stands for Review-Observe-Reflect®. The R.O.R Model® tasks are undertaken by the PD Specialist. Each task contributes to the assessment of the candidate’s competency.

During the CDA Verification Visit®, the specialist:

  • Reviews the contents of the professional portfolio, the training transcripts/certificates and Family Questionnaires
  • Observes the candidate working with children, recording criterion evidence where applicable, and
  • Reflects with the candidate, focusing on the candidate’s areas of strength or growth found in the portfolio and/or seen during the observation

The professional portfolio is compiled independently by each candidate as part of the CDA® credentialing process. The compiled resources and documents are reviewed by the PD Specialist during the CDA Verification Visit®. The professional portfolio is composed of:

  • Proof of 120 hours of training/education
  • Current First Aid and CPR Certification
  • Ten (10) Resources
  • Six (6) Reflective Statements of Competence
  • A Professional Philosophy Statement
  • Family Questionnaires

The Find-a-PD Specialist Directory is a database for candidates to use to locate a PD Specialist in their area to conduct the CDA Verification Visit®.

To use the Find-a-PD Specialist Directory, candidate’s enter their work zip code, their classroom setting and the language in which they teach into the database. The database will generate the names and descriptions of PD Specialists nearest to the candidate. The candidate then selects the nearest PD Specialist and sends a request to the PD Specialist to conduct their CDA Verification Visit®. If the PD Specialist is available to complete the visit, they will respond to the candidate with their PD Specialist ID number. The PD Specialist ID number is required to complete and submit the CDA® application.

All active CDA PD Specialists can be found and selected in YourCouncil. To access the Find-a-PD Specialist Directory, login to YourCouncil and click the Find a PDS button located on the left side menu.

Absolutely, by selecting this option on the PD Specialist application.

No, PD Specialists with a Spanish only endorsement can only complete visits in Spanish.

As a Bilingual PD Specialist, you have the privilege to complete bilingual visits, as well as English only and Spanish only CDA Verification Visits.

How to Become a CDA PD Specialist™

The requirements to become a PD Specialist can be found here. We encourage any qualified person to consider being a CDA PD Specialist. In addition, PD Specialists must have access to the internet and an active email account.

If you are eligible, you may fill out and submit an online CDA PD Specialist application. The Council will review all applications. You will receive an email from the Council with instructions on how to proceed.

All eligible ECE professionals will have 30 days to complete the PD Specialist training modules and pass the final exam. Once all the modules are completed and the exam is successfully passed, the PD Specialist must sign a contract and submit a W-9. At this time, they will be issued a PD Specialist ID number and are officially a CDA Professional Development Specialist™.

ECE professionals whose application is approved will receive an email from the Council to proceed with required online training modules. At the end of the training, a short online exam verifies mastery of the material.

The applicant must complete the Council’s online PD Specialist training and pass the exam to officially serve in the role of a CDA Professional Development Specialist™.

The training is self-paced, however, on average PD Specialist candidates spend approximately one-hour per training module and two-hours for the final exam. There are four (4) training modules and one (1) final exam.

Due to the high volume of PD Specialist applications, it may take the Council up to 45 business days to finalize reviews. We ask for your patience as we process your application.

You will receive an email with next steps of how-to login to the Learning Management System (LMS) to begin your PD Specialist training. Be sure to check your spam/junk email folder, in case our messages have gone there.

You will receive an email from the External Specialist Engagement Team letting you know your application has been denied. You will have an opportunity at that time to appeal the decision if you desire.

The Council for Professional Recognition does not compensate for additional services performed by PD Specialists. In your role as a PD Specialist, you are expected to conduct the CDA Verification Visit® in alignment with the training provided by the Council and the R.O.R. Model®.

Our goal is to have even coverage across the United States, and for PD Specialists to only serve in their local area.

Occasionally, there are special circumstances where long distance travel is necessary, however, these types of assignments will be handled on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Council prior to the CDA Verification Visit® being conducted.

Please review the CDA PD Specialist™ Conflict of Interest Policy in the section below.

Conflicts of Interest

The CDA PD Specialist™ Conflict of Interest Policy is defined to support the validity of the credentialing process and to provide flexibility to the many, varied training scenarios that are enacted across the country. With these two goals in mind, the Council places the following restrictions on who may serve as a CDA Professional Development Specialist:

You may NOT serve as a candidate’s CDA PD Specialist™ if:

  1. You are the candidate’s:
    • Relative (related by blood, marriage, or other legal relationships)
    • Direct supervisor, teacher/trainer, director, center employee (including for example, co-worker in the same group, classroom, or center site) in the past three years
    • The candidate is the employer
  2. You have a child in the candidate’s class or group
  3. You have served as the candidate’s CDA PD Specialist™:
    • For another CDA® credential
    • In the past and the candidate is re- applying for the same credential
  4. You have a financial/contractual interest related to the candidate or may benefit in any way from the candidate’s credentialing decision
  5. A person who may have a personal or professional bias toward or against the candidate, or any group of which the candidate is a part (such as peer/friend/foe)
  6. A licensing agent that has conducted a review/inspection/or otherwise within the past two years for the child-care facility.

For additional policy updates or questions, please contact us at