WASHINGTON, DC — The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily stopped trained home visitors from providing families with resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. However, interest in these nonprofit home visiting programs remains strong.
That’s why the Council for Professional Recognition is launching an effort to increase home visitors’ awareness of and support in pursuing the Home Visitor Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential. Currently, about 5,000 home visitors hold the credential in the U.S.; the Council developed the credential to define, evaluate and recognize the skills needed to offer competent support to parents of young children. In addition, the Council has certified nearly 600 Professional Development Specialists to assess home visitors’ competencies.
The Council recently published a white paper about home visiting; it’s also available in Spanish. The paper states: “A good way of describing home visiting is to say that it ‘helps good people be great parents.’ Because not every parent has all the knowledge or resources they need, home visiting programs — along with early childhood education — can play a major role in helping children get a good start in life.”
CDA Benefits for Home Visitors
The CDA from the Council is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE) and is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE.
The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. The Council aims to ensure that the nationally transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development.
“Unlike other educators, home visitors are assessed for the competence they demonstrate in educating adults,” explains Vilma M. Williams, the senior manager of multilingual and special programs at the Council. “To earn a Home Visitor CDA, the teacher must show they can provide education and guidance to help adults prepare to work with their children, set their own goals and reach those goals.”
Gisela Hurtado served for many years as a home visitor in Washington, D.C., when she decided to pursue her certification. “Working with entire families is so fulfilling. I have an opportunity to help parents understand and prepare for the fact that they are their child’s first teachers. The Home Visitor CDA taught me that the most important thing I needed to do as a home visitor was to build a trusting relationship with families. Once that happened, I was able to guide them through the journey of preparing their child for school and life.”
CDAs have knowledge of how to put the CDA Competency Standards into practice and an understanding of why those standards help children move with success from one developmental stage to another.
Candidates for the Council’s credential must first complete 120 hours of formal ECE training, covering the growth and development of children ages birth to 5 years old, with no fewer than 10 training hours in each of the eight CDA subject areas.
The CDA subject areas include promoting health and safety in the home environment, enhancing parents’ skills to advance children’s physical and intellectual development, and understanding principles of child developing and learning.
In 2018, more than 286,000 families received evidence-based home visiting services over the course of more than 3.2 million home visits in the U.S. About 14,500 home visitors, mostly women, work with more than 3,000 local agencies.