home > career development > Degrees/Credentials

Career Development

Degrees & Credential Programs

Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Programs: Prenatal through Grade 3

The Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Programs: Prenatal through Grade 3 blended course focuses on how an aligned prenatal to grade3 (P-3) system has the potential to improve child outcomes and prevent or close achievement gaps. This coursework is designed to increase the capacity of early education and school-age leaders to understand, connect, and align the many public and private systems that are focused on the growth, development, and education of children prenatally through grade 3.  This course will focus on what P-3 leaders need to know and be able to do in order to improve the quality and coherence of children’s learning opportunities.  

Using a nationally recognized P-3 framework, participants will explore strategies and methods for evaluating implementation efforts; as well as concrete examples of how to enrich and expand prenatal through grade 3 approaches.  

The P-3 blended course offers an opportunity to bring together early education and school-age K-3 leaders in a cooperative, professional learning community. This partnership encourages an understanding of the early education and school-based educational systems which children and families navigate. It also helps to build relationships among these leaders to create coordinated, aligned, and coherent learning experiences for students and their families. 

Early education program directors and school-age administrators are in a unique position in their communities. These individuals have the opportunity to acquire deeper knowledge and greater leadership skills to successfully identify and navigate the challenges and opportunities in creating P-3 alignment. The P-3 blended course is ideal for those leaders who want to take a deeper dive into collaborative learning and relationship building around early learning and P-3 alignment. PQAS and Act 45 hours are offered.  

This initiative is part of Pennsylvania's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information on other initiatives funded by this grant, visit the PA Department of Education website.

Director Credential

Director Credential Applications

Applications can be sent to the locations below: (Please note that this is not an online application. All applications need to be mailed or emailed to the below addresses.)

  • Mailing Address: PA Key, 200 North Third Street, 3rd Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101.
  • Email Address: dircred@pakeys.org


Non-refundable fee:

  • Initial Application: $25.00
  • Renewal Application: $50.00                                


Payment Options:

  • Pay by check or money order. Payable to "PA Key"
  • Pay online. Directions: Log into www.pakeys.org, click PD Registry, click Course Catalog, search 'Director Credential-Payment', then select initial or Renewal depending on the application you are applying for. Make payment with Credit Card or PayPal and print out certificate of payment. Submit the certificate of payment with your application.


Please allow 60-90 days to process a completed application. 

Director Credential Practitioner Applications 

Director Credential Portfolio Application and Documents 

Director Credential Documents 


Institutions of Higher Education wanting more information on applying for approval of your Director Credential program of study, view the Higher Education page.

For more information, please contact:


School-Age Credential

More detailed information about the School-Age Professional Credential can be found in the School-Age section.


Child Development Associate (CDA)

Visit the Council for Professional Recognition’s Web site for more information.

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).

Becoming a CDA is a big commitment, but one that creates confident practitioners with command of today's best practices for teaching young children.

Benefits of The Child Development Associate Credential

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


Renewal criteria

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.
Financial assistance may be available for some of these credentials.  Please go to Financial Assistance page for more information


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



copyright © 2009 PA Keys