Educator Pathways

The Child Development Associate® Credential is your ECE pathway to success.

Gain ECE Skills and Recognition

The CDA® national credentialing program is a professional development opportunity for early educators working in a variety of settings with children ages birth to 5 years old and their families to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in the early childhood education field. The program is designed to assess and credential early childhood education professionals using multiple sources of evidence, including an exam, observation, and a professional portfolio. By earning a CDA credential in any of the settings below, an educator demonstrates a commitment to career advancement and professionalism

Center-Based Infant-Toddler

Work with children birth to 36 months.

The Infant-Toddler center-based setting is a state-approved child development center where a candidate can be observed working with a group of at least 3 children ages birth through 36 months, with at least one of the sub-groups. The program must have at least 10 children enrolled, not necessarily in the candidate’s group, and at least two early educators working with the children on a regular basis.

Center-Based Preschool

Work with children ages 3 to 5 years old.

The Preschool center-based setting is a state-approved child development center where a candidate can be observed working with at least 8 children, all of whom are ages 3 to 5 years. The program must have at least 10 children enrolled, not necessarily in the candidate’s group, and at least two early educators working with the children on a regular basis.

Family Child Care

Work with children ages birth to 5 years.

A Family Child Care setting is a family child care home where a candidate can be observed working with at least two children 5 years old or younger who are not related to the candidate by blood or marriage. The setting must meet at least the minimum level of applicable state and/or local regulations. Family Child Care settings are also eligible in localities where there is no regulation of family child care.

Note: In states where there are licensed ‘group homes,’ these meet the CDA requirements for a family child care setting. However, in group homes where 10 or more children are enrolled and at least 2 caregivers work with the children on a regular basis, candidates may apply for the center-based credential.

Home Visitor

Work with families of children ages birth to 5 years.

The Home Visitor setting is an established program of home visits to families with children 5 years old or younger. It supports parents in meeting the needs of their young children, where candidates can be observed conducting home visits. In this setting, regular home visits are the primary methods of program delivery.

Military School-Age (MSA)

Work with school-age children on military bases.

The Military School-Age (MSA) Credential promotes quality service to parents and children by providing specific standards, training, and evaluation for Military School-Age staff. It is an opportunity for adults working with school-age children on military bases to gain professional recognition by demonstrating competence in their on-the-job skills.

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