The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE), and it is a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in ECE. The CDA Credential is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children. It is nationally transferable and recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development. The purpose of the CDA program is to increase the teacher pipeline for Peninsula Family Service (PFS) and for the wider community.

In January 2022, PFS began this auspicious new program to train potential employees as an Early Learning Child Development Associate. Fifteen individuals comprise the first cohort of the PFS CDA credential training program. Our CDA students are all new to Early Learning, and excited to be embarking on a career in this field. Candidates who earn a CDA credential are well prepared to foster the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth of young children. Not only does having a CDA help educators bring out the best in children, but it also advances their careers and contributes to the status of the education profession. Eight core modules (120 hours) are taught full-time over eight weeks; the equivalent of twelve teaching units.

Next Steps

Once coursework is completed, cohorts need to obtain 480 hours of work experience in a center-based setting with children ages birth to 36 months, including experience in all three sub-age groups—young infants (birth to 8 months), mobile infants (9-17 months), and toddlers (18-36 months). Participants will also need to prepare a CDA professional portfolio that includes a collection of reference materials related to work with children and families. A CDA Professional Development Specialist will conduct a verification visit, observing the cohort’s work. After passing a 65-question examination, credentials are submitted to the State of California and if a passing grade is achieved, the individual receives a 5-year permit. Participants receive all training and coursework materials for free, are provided with a loaner laptop, and are paid weekly $750 for their participation and work. In just eight weeks, graduates will earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate and will then be eligible for an Associate Teacher position within the PFS Early Learning program with pay for certificate holders at $23 per hour—a marked increase in what most had been earning. Through CDA and through the PFS Teacher Lift program, giant strides are being made to professionalize the education career for individuals—including parents and single mothers—who would otherwise not have a solid career. PFS is providing hope for a better future for our eight classrooms, and for all classrooms in the Bay Area. PFS is Opening Doors, Changing Lives.