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September 26, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC — The Council for Professional Recognition, which is awarding the 1 millionth Child Development Associate® Credential™ (CDA), believes this achievement strengthens the entire early childhood education sector even as it deals with many challenges, including funding and staffing shortages.
The Council for Professional Recognition, a nonprofit that supports early childhood education professionals, administers the CDA®. Candidates for the CDA must successfully pass the national CDA exam that tests their knowledge of early childhood best practices based on the National CDA Competency Standards. In its 48-year history, the CDA has grown to become a recognized benchmark of excellence and the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education around the world. It’s a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in early childhood education and signifies the dedication and expertise of professionals in the classroom.
Jada Vargas, an 18-year-old and recent graduate of Alchesay High School on the Fort Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona, is the 1 millionth person to earn the CDA. The CDA’s legacy stretches back to 1975, when Margaret E. Wright was the first person to achieve the credential.
Vargas says, “I’m really surprised and excited to be the 1 millionth person to earn a CDA — I had no idea I would be joining such a large and impressive group! I honor all of those educators who came before me and will do my best to uphold the standards that make the CDA so special.”
Vargas says she realized becoming an educator was her calling when she worked in a child care center and then began going through the CDA credentialing process. She says she learned very quickly that each child requires different types of support and interactions.
“If you want to pursue something you are passionate about, like the CDA, it is worth the effort. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to and I try not to let anyone affect my journey.”
Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr., the CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, says, “We congratulate Jada on earning her CDA and being the 1 millionth person to do so. She joins a distinguished and successful group of professional educators who are well prepared to foster the social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth of young children. Having a CDA does more than just help educators bring out the best in children, it also advances their careers and contributes to the status of our profession.
Albert Wat, chair of the Council of Professional Recognition’s Governing Board and senior policy director at Alliance for Early Success, says, “Reaching the milestone of the millionth individual earning a CDA is a testament to the dedication and passion of early childhood educators. Each CDA earned represents not only a personal achievement but also a commitment to the betterment of our youngest learners’ lives. As we celebrate this significant moment, let us renew our commitment to providing high-quality care and education to every child, ensuring their potential knows no bounds.”
Dr. Joan Lombardi, who served as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says, “I congratulate the 1 million CDAs across the country for their dedication to young children and I hope they receive the recognition and support that should come with this achievement. Congratulations to the Council for Professional Recognition for supporting those who educate children every day and for reaching this important milestone”.
In congratulating Vargas and all CDAs on reaching this level of success, Dr. Moore also challenged the sector to keep reaching for greater impact. “The pandemic taught all Americans the vital importance of early childhood educators to the financial well-being of the whole economy. While we remind policymakers, business leaders and the public of that lesson, we must also encourage more and more of our colleagues to pursue a CDA because of its proven value.”
The recent CDA Holders’ Survey found:
- 73% of respondents believe the CDA credential has been beneficial for their career;
- 87% of respondents believe it made them more prepared for the classroom;
- 64% of respondents pursued the CDA credential to expand their skills;
- 79% of owners/directors believe the CDA credential makes their teachers more prepared for the classroom; and
- 80% of owners/directors said they were more likely to hire someone with a CDA credential than someone without.
The Council intends to build on the CDA’s success by introducing technological advancements; additional diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and more research investments.
ABOUT THE COUNCIL FOR PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION
The Council for Professional Recognition promotes improved performance and recognition of professionals in the early childhood education of children ages birth to 5 years old. The Council recognizes and credentials professionals who work in all types of early care and education settings including Head Start, pre-k, infant-toddler, family childcare, and home visitor programs. As a nonprofit organization, the Council sets policies and procedures for assessment and credentialing. To date over 1 million Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials have been issued around the world. For more information, visit www.cdacouncil.org.
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