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How to Prepare to Earn Your Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

September 24, 2021 12:14 pm

New initiatives from the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning have shifted towards stackable, portable credentials and degree achievement for early care and education providers. The Pennsylvania regulations for licensed childcare facilities recommended a minimum qualification for employees in a teaching or supervisory role be a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential; the CDA is the most widely recognized credential in the Early Childhood Education field.

NPRC has responded to this need by offering two distinct pathways that will help early care and education workers prepare to earn their CDA and meet these training requirements. Students looking to prepare to earn this credential can do so during a community-based,14-week course through NPRC’s Workforce Development Department, or through integrated coursework in three of NPRC’s early childhood education courses.

Preparing to Earn Your CDA Credential in Pa.

In order to earn a CDA credential through integrated course work, students must have a high school diploma, complete 120 hours of professional education, 480 hours of work experience within the last three years at a Department of Human Services licensed child care facility, compile a professional portfolio, pass the CDA exam, and have a satisfactory verification visit; fortunately, NPRC is here to help prepare for that journey. Students at NPRC can choose a CDA option for Infant-Toddler, Preschool, Family Child Care, or Home Visitor. Our program offers a stackable credential and, regardless of their method to earn the CDA, one that transfers directly into NPRC’s Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education, should students choose to pursue that pathway.

Two of NPRC’s courses, each earning three academic credits, include assessments and outcomes that help students prepare to meet CDA requirements. These programs are ECE 110: Introduction to Early Childhood Education and ECE 118: Family Involvement and Collaboration. A third ECE program course of the student’s choice is selected to fulfill their required 120-hours of professional education. Students who successfully complete these three courses will be prepared to take the CDA exam and complete their verification visit. Courses students can choose from include: 

  • ECE 120: Instructional and Classroom Design for Early Childhood Curricula
  • ECE 216: Social and Emotional Growth of Infants and Toddlers
  • ECE 232: Child Development
  • ECE 234: Physical and Cognitive Development of Infants and Toddlers

Successful completion of the credit-bearing CDA coursework satisfies nine academic credits toward NPRC’s Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education. Students are awarded 40 hours per course with a passing grade, or up to 120 hours, in the Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry (the statewide Early Childhood Education Workforce Registry).

Tuition Support for Early Childhood Education Students in Pa.

NPRC is now eligible for three funding sources to support eligible local students in achieving credentials in Early Childhood Education. One of these sources is funded by the Early Care Education Professional Development Organization at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education through the Northwest Institute of Research, Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 1. ELRC funding supports community-based Child Development Associate training through NPRC’s Workforce Development Division.

NPRC came to an agreement with Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) for T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) Early Childhood® PENNSYLVANIA Scholarship Program in August 2021. This scholarship is for eligible early childhood students seeking an Associate of Applied Science degree; T.E.A.C.H. will pay up to 95% of tuition, fees, and book expenses. This agreement increases our students’ ability to earn stackable and portable credentials.

Another funding source for ECE is Rising STARS tuition assistance. Rising STARS is for students seeking a CDA or School-Age Professional Credential (SAPC) for academic credits and offering a wide variety of CDA eligible courses. With the backing from these tuition support programs, it means that incumbent working students who meet eligibility criteria are now able to receive a CDA and the Associate of Applied Science at little to no cost.

Child Development Associate Credential Training in Pa.

Students who have been searching for an affordable way to prepare for their CDA in Pennsylvania now how two accessible options to do so through NPRC. In fact, the first student to be confirmed eligible for the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship is a student who completed NPRC’s CDA program this past summer through the ELRC community-based program.

“The job market in our region has a high need for credentialed teachers and group supervisors in child care facilities,” says Leigh Anne Kraemer-Nasser, ECE instructor. “With eligibility for T.E.A.C.H., we are serving our students, their employers, and our region with pathways for affordable and stackable professional credentialing in the Early Childhood Education field. I’m thrilled that NPRC can now provide this opportunity in partnership with PACCA.”

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