Here it is; The Meat and Potatoes


The following are the steps to obtaining a CDA Credential.                                                             Print this Document


The CDA Resources and Tutorials will walk you through each step. For now, just read the summary below and move on to the next page.

  1. Make certain that you will meet the eligibility requirements to go through the CDA Direct Assessment process:

    • You are 18 years of age or older

    • Have 480 hours of experience working with young children within the past 5 years in a state-licensed home or center setting

    • Hold a high school diploma or the equivalent

  2. Submit an enrollment application to register for the 120 hours of CDA courses at

  3. Call the Council for Professional Recognition (1-800-424-4310) and purchase a CDA Direct Assessment Application Packet. When it arrives, read the CDA Competency Standards Book, specifically the six stages of assessment. The cost of the CDA Direct Assessment Application Packet is $20 and generally takes 3 – 6 weeks to receive from the time that you place the order.

  4. Complete 120 clock hours of formal childcare education. Upon completion of your 120 clock hours, notify us by clicking on the link in the training console to request a transcript.

  5. Follow the instructions in the CDA Resources and Tutorials to create a Professional Resource Portfolio and write the 6 competency statements.

  6. Have at least one three-hour Observation and Assessment done by a qualified person. Some students have access to a qualified person to conduct the Observation and Assessment; others will need to obtain advisor services for this portion of the CDA process.

  7. Collect parent questionnaires from the families in your care (instructions and questionnaires are provided in the Direct Assessment Application packet).

  8. Submit the completed Direct Assessment Application to the CDA Council along with the application fee. Direct Assessment Applications can be submitted at any time.

  9. A representative from the CDA Council will contact you to schedule a verification visit. During the Verification Visit the Council Representative will:

    • Check the content of your Professional Resource File

    • Collect copies of your Statements of Competence

    • Collect a copy of your Autobiographical Statement

    • Collect Parent Opinion Questionnaires and the Observation Instrument

    • Administer the Early Childhood Studies Review - a two-hour, multiple-choice examination

    • Conduct the Oral Interview to evaluate your knowledge of early childhood care and education practices.

  10. A Council Committee will review your documentation and render a decision whether to award you the Credential. If the Credential is awarded, the official Child Development Associate Credential will be sent to you. If the committee decides you need more training, the Council will let you know what next steps to take to earn the Credential.

  11. A CDA Credential is valid for three years from the award date, after which it may be renewed for five-year periods. For details about the renewal process, see the CDA Renewal section.



Remember that you have access to the courses for one year from the date of enrollment.


Page 3 of 5 of the CDA Training Program Instructions