The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential 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 Credential is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professional as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. There are four credentials offered: Center-based, Infant -Toddler (birth-36 months), Center-based, Preschool (3-5 years), Home-based Family Child Care (birth-5 years), and Home Visitor (families of children birth-5 years). Obtaining a CDA is a big commitment, but one that creates confident early childhood educators with command of today’s best practices for teaching young children.

Benefits of The Child Development Associate Credential for an ECE provider:

  • Career advancements
  • Meet job requirements
  • Reinforce your commitment to early childhood education
  • Provide parents with peace of mind
  • Understand Developmentally appropriate practice
  • Increase your confidence

For more information on how a CDA credential fits in to Pennsylvania’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Career Pathway, visit the Career Pathway page.



Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is implementing statewide Professional Development Organizations (PDOs). PDOs will specialize in access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for the early childhood education (ECE) workforce. Shippensburg University and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) were selected as the PDOs in Pennsylvania. See a regional map. (PDF)

While PDOs begin their work, The Pennsylvania Key contracted with several organizations and institutes of higher education to offer community-based cohorts so that individuals attempting to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential can complete the 120 hours of credit-bearing coursework and receive additional support. This opportunity is available for Spring 2020. Space in these cohorts is limited. Use the contact information in the table below to determine the best program for you.

ECE Professionals can also find credit-bearing coursework for the CDA at the following higher education institutions:

If you are unable to find a program that fits your needs, contact your PDO. PDOs will begin work on more CDA programs statewide in early 2020.



Due to recent events, the Council is extending the deadline for the CDA Renewal Amnesty Program to December 31, 2020. The Council’s hope is that  this extension will help ease concerns and allow individuals additional time needed to take advantage of this opportunity. For additional information about accommodations made by the CDA Council due to COVID 19, please visit:

Early childhood educators whose Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential lapsed or expired can take advantage of a limited time CDA renewal Amnesty program, beginning Jan.1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. This means if an ECE professional completed their CDA anytime after Jan, 1, 2010 and did not submit a renewal to keep the CDA current, they can take advantage of this opportunity to reinstate their CDA credential. The renewal program is eligible for Rising Stars Tuition Assistance (RSTA). To apply for Financial assistance, ECE professionals need to complete their profile in the PD Registry to see the Financial Assistance tab. For more information about RSTA, please visit the PA Key website.
To qualify for the CDA renewal Amnesty program, the following eligibility requirements must be met:
  • Expiration date as far back as Jan. 1, 2010
  • Must meet all current renewal requirements (visit the CDA Council website for more information about the renewal process)
  • Apply online using YourCouncil CDA council portal system (for more information on this process, please visit the CDA Council website)
The program will run from Jan. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020. All applications and payments ($125) must be submitted online by March 31, 2020.



All CDA Renewal Candidates must meet the following five criteria:

  1. Documented proof of a current Red Cross or other nationally recognized agency First Aid and Infant/Child (Pediatric) CPR certification – the certification must include (1) treatment for blocked airway and (2) provide rescue breathing for infants and young children. Note: Training is not accepted from independent consultants and/or online training.
  2. Documented proof of one of the following types of training in early childhood education/child development, principles of adult learning, mental health counseling, etc.:- 4.5 Continuing Education  Units (CEUs)
    – a three-credit-hour course
    – or 45 clock hours (These hours must be in addition to the original 120 clock hours required when the Candidate obtained the CDA Credential. Bilingual CDAs must meet this requirement with coursework incorporating bilingual education.)
  3. Documented proof of recent (within one year) prior to your renewal, you must have worked a minimum of 80 hours with young children or families. This must be documented in a letter from your supervisor. Note: The letter from your supervisor should specify, “works with children”.
  4. A completed Letter of Recommendation Form regarding the CDA’s competence with young children prepared by an early childhood education (ECE) Reviewer. The ECE Reviewer must meet the eligibility requirements.
  5. Documented proof current membership with a national or local early childhood professional organization. Your membership must be active/current at the time the Council receives your renewal information. This must be an individual membership, not an agency membership. For a list of National Early Childhood Organizations, please visit the Council for Professional Recognition website.

Please note:  Effective January 1, 2018, the Council for Professional Recognition has increased the application processing for candidates submitting paper applications to $500.  Candidates who utilize their online application system at, will continue to be charged $425.  At this time, the CDA Assessment Fee voucher will continue to be valued at $425.  Should you choose to utilize a paper application, you will be responsible for submitting the additional $75 fee in addition to the $425 CDA Assessment Voucher.  Paper applications submitted to the Council with only the $425 CDA Assessment Fee voucher will be returned to the applicant. 

Apply online for a CDA Renewal, or contact the Council for further information:

Council for Professional Recognition
2460 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009-3547
Office hours: 8am – 5pm EST



Financial assistance may be available for some of these credentials.

For more information on financial assistance, visit the main Financial Assistance page.



More resources available at