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Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate

About the CDA

The CDA Certificate at The CUNY School of Professional Studies is offered in partnership with the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute. This program was created in response to new educational mandates, as well as the need for early childhood professionals to master the knowledge and skills needed to create effective learning environments for children.

The program prepares students to communicate effectively, learn and use new technology, think critically and creatively, and demonstrate cultural awareness. The courses are designed for students who intend to pursue advanced study in early childhood education or a related discipline, and for those who will seek employment or career advancement upon completion of an undergraduate degree program. The structure and curriculum of the CDA Certificate are designed to complement the Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credentialing Program's Competency Standards.

Who should seek the credential?

Anyone interested in working with infant, toddler, and preschool aged children (Birth – Age 5) in center-based care as well as those in family child care homes. This nationally recognized credential has been accepted as a minimum requirement for working in many early childhood centers.

CDA Courses

In order to qualify for the certificate, students must complete the following 4 three-credit CDA courses offered at The CUNY School of Professional Studies: [Click each course to read the course description]

  • EDUC 200: Child Development Birth - 5 Years (3 credits)

    The course will focus on theories of attachment, theories of childhood, and developmental touchpoints essential in learning about children. This knowledge allows teaching professionals to establish nurturing environments conducive to meeting the individual needs of children and families while being respectful and cognizant of family preference and cultural frameworks. This course is designed to provide students with opportunities to explore, reflect, and build a theoretical grounding in child development. Students will have numerous opportunities to link theory to practice, with a focus on hands-on learning. Students are encouraged to question, reflect, and integrate their experiences and readings while they learn from each other through small group brainstorming, problem solving, and discussions.

  • EDUC 201: Observing and Recording Development of the Young Child (3 credits)

    This course is designed to provide students with opportunities to explore, reflect, and build upon the theoretical grounding gained in Child Development Birth - 5 years. The course will focus on presenting a unique system for observing and recording development of children ages 3 to 5 in early childhood classroom settings. The system is based on a progression of children’s skill development in six major areas: emotional development, social development, physical development, cognitive development, language development, and creative development. Students will not only explore how to observe, record, and interpret development of children 3 through 5 years of age, but also have opportunities to discuss what these children are like and how to support them in their development with exciting hands-on activities. Students will identify ways to connect their observations to making individual learning plans, assessment of individual children for program development, and developing classroom activities that are developmentally appropriate for young children. Students will have numerous opportunities to link theory to practice, with a focus on hands-on learning. Students are encouraged to question, reflect, and integrate their experiences and readings while they learn from each other through small group brainstorming, problem solving, and discussions.

  • EDUC 202: Integrated Curriculum and Learning Environments (3 credits)

    This course is designed to provide students with opportunities to explore, reflect, and build upon the theoretical grounding gained in the Child Development course. The course will focus on establishing and maintaining a safe, healthy, learning environment through the examination of each child’s physical, cognitive, language, creative, self, social, and emotional development and their impact on child guidance practices. Students will have numerous opportunities to link theory to practice, with a focus on hands-on learning. Students are encouraged to question, reflect, and integrate their experiences and readings while they learn from each other through small group brainstorming, problem solving, and discussions.

  • EDUC 203: Program, Professional, and Family Dynamics (3 credits)

    The course will focus on establishing positive and productive partnerships with families, ensuring a well-run, purposeful program responsive to participant needs, and maintaining a commitment to professionalism. Special attention will be given to making connections in working with diverse families and communities, as well as children with special needs. This course is designed to provide students with opportunities to explore, reflect, and build upon their belief and view of early childhood professionals within the field as well as within society. Students will have numerous opportunities to link theory to practice, with a focus on hands-on learning. Students are encouraged to question, reflect, and integrate their experiences and readings while they learn from each other through small group brainstorming, problem solving, and discussions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the courses be offered?

Participants must take the 4 three-credit courses in succession.

  • EDUC 200 - Child Development Birth - 5 Years (3 Credits)
  • EDUC 201 - Observing and Recording Development of the Young Child (3 Credits)
  • EDUC 203 - Program, Professional, and Family Dynamics (3 Credits)
  • EDUC 203 - Program, Professional, and Family Dynamics (3 Credits)

Where and when are classes held?

Classes are typically held in midtown Manhattan at the SPS campus located at 119 W. 31st Street on Saturdays. For the current semester schedule, please view the documents.

Where will the courses be taught?

Courses are offered at the SPS campus located at 119 W. 31st Street, close to the B, D, F, M, N, Q, R, 1, 2, 3, A, C, E trains as well as the NJ Path. If child care programs have at least 10 students, classes can be offered on-site at a community location.

Is there a particular format for the courses?

Each of the four courses is developed to foster the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required to be an effective early childhood educator. Classes integrate foundational knowledge with practical strategies through an interactive, hands-on approach. Students are required to be reflective of their practice working with children, families, and co-workers and adjust their approach and understanding as needed.

Does the CDA certificate require anything besides the successful completion of the coursework?

In addition to coursework, students are required to complete 120 hours of supervised fieldwork per course, regardless of whether a student intends to pursue the CDA Credential. Fieldwork will be supervised by a course instructor or assigned fieldwork observer.

If I am employed at an early childhood program, can I count my work hours towards the fieldwork requirement?

Students currently employed by a licensed program serving children Birth – 5 years can utilize their place of employment for their fieldwork hours specific to their CDA designation (infant/toddler, preschool or family child care). Students who are not employed by a licensed program will be placed in a site that is agreed upon by the instructor and student. Students are required to complete 480 hours of fieldwork prior to completion of the certificate program.

Who will the faculty be?

The faculty and fieldwork supervisors have all had considerable experience working in early childhood classrooms as well as teaching at the college and university level. All faculty are knowledgeable of the CDA Credentialing process and customize their instruction and support to meet the unique needs of the course content and student population.

What about tuition and related costs?

To view current tuition rates, please view this document. Students who qualify, are encouraged to apply for grants at the Educational Incentive Program (EIP). Applications deadlines and eligibility requirements are on their website. Students can also apply for the following scholar ships:

For more help / information about financial aid, visit our financial aid page

What is the different between the CDA Certificate and the CDA Credential?

The CDA certificate acknowledges that you have completed the necessary training to qualify for a CDA Credential. Eligible candidates submit the Certificate as part of their application for the CDA Credential.

Learn more about applying for the CDA Credential on the Council for Professional Recognition website

What are the requirements to attain a CDA Credential?

  1. Training:
    • Complete 480 hours (about 1 year full time) of experience working with children (specific to the CDA designation – Infant/Toddler, Preschool, or Family Child Care)
    • Complete 120 clock hours of formal education/coursework. (All coursework must have occurred within 5 years of the application date)
  2. Assessment:
    • As part of the SPS coursework, students are supported to compile a Professional Portfolio that is used for the final assessment process. In addition to the Professional Portfolio, students demonstrate their competence through a Verification Visit and CDA Exam. At the completion of the four courses at SPS, students are assigned a Portfolio Advisor that meets individually with each student to ensure the Professional Portfolio meets the Credentialing Requirements, assists the student is applying for the CDA Exam and selecting a PD Specialist to conduct your Verification Visit.
  3. Credentialing:
    • After the Council for Professional Recognition receives the scores for both your Verification Visit and CDA Exam, the Council creates a Cumulative Score in order to determine your final credentialing decision. The Cumulative Score takes into account your understanding of the six CDA Competency Standards and 13 Functional Areas and your ability to put them into practice. There is not a passing or failing score on either the CDA Exam or the Verification Visit. Rather the Council comprehensively evaluates how you score in each of the Functional Areas during the Verification Visit and on the CDA Exam to arrive at its decision.
    • A CDA credential is valid for 3 years from the date of the award. You can apply to renew your CDA Credential 90 days before it expires.

Will credits earned in CDA courses articulate to other degree programs?

Articulation agreements are formal agreements between CUNY SPS and two-year colleges and universities, allowing students to transfer the maximum number of credits with ease. Currently, four colleges accept the CUNY SPS CDA credits for transfer:

We're Here to Help!

For more information about the CDA, contact us at:
cda@earlychildhoodny.org
or call 718-254-7735.

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About Goals

Your goals describe specific areas that you are working on (or plan to work on) to improve or maintain the quality of your program. Goals connect your quality improvement work to the QUALITY standards and your rating and allow you to schedule and prioritize chunks of work in your progranm. Goals group together and organize related action items (tasks) and provide a narrative framework to keep you, your program, your QIM and Central Office on the same page.

Goal Scope and Scale

You have a lot of flexibility in developing QI Goals, but some rules of thumb help keep Goals useful, readable, and manageable:

  • Time: A Goal should be achievable roughly within a rating cycle, If you are struggling to put even an estimated end date on a Goal, it may be too broad. Ideally, several Goals will fit (with some overlap) within a rating cycle.
  • Standards: A Goal should roughly fit within a standard subcategory. This is flexible, of course, but if your Goal is spanning multiple standard categories, it may be too broad.
  • A Goal may be too small if it can be accomplished in one or two small steps.
  • A Goal may be too broad if you can't define concisely how you will know when it is complete.
Goal Label

The goal label is simply a brief title that allows you to distinguish this goal from others in a list or report. The more robust description of the Goal comes in the Goal statement below.

Think of it like naming a file on your computer so that later you can recognize it. This label will appear on your goal as a "title" along with your Goal statement, as well as being the identifier in drop-down or selection lists for viewing/using Goals.

Goal Statement

What is your goal?

Goal Rationale / Inspiration

Where did this goal come from? What in your rating and/or conversations about the program led to the development of this Goal? Why is this particular area of quality improvement a priority?

Quality Impact

How will the quality of the program improve? What will be different about the way the program works, looks and feels? How will children, families, the director and staff experience the program differently?

Goal Activity Summary

Summarize / brainstorm the actions you think you'll need to take to accomplish this goal. You'll be defining specific action items as you go, but record the big picture here. What practices will need to change? Who will need to be involved? What will need to be purchased? What training/coaching will be needed?

Goal Existing Resources

What existing strengths and resources will help this goal be successful?

Goal Barriers

What factors, events or concerns might prevent you from accomplishing this goal? If you've attempted to make these changes in the past, what barriers arose and prevented you from following through? What resources or information could help you overcome these barriers and accomplish this goal?

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