Having appropriate training and credentials are critical to improving the quality of early childhood education. Having an early childhood teaching credential has many benefits:
- It makes teachers more effective at ensuring children will be kindergarten ready
- It provides teachers with more opportunity to achieve better pay, recognition and sense of accomplishment
- It confirms that teachers are professionals
- It increases parents’ confidence in their children’s teachers and the school in general
What are the Different Types of Credentials?
- Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC): Credential that is recognized as equivalent to the National CDA. The Credential may not be recognized in other states. The Florida Credential was developed to allow more accessibility to training programs in order to meet the diverse needs of child care providers around the State of Florida. The Florida Credential can be obtained by attending and graduating from an approved program listed on the Department of Children and Families (DCF) website. The Florida Credential has a 5 year renewal process. The candidate must complete 120 hours of classroom instruction, 480 hours of work experience and one professional observation during the program. DCF also requires a portfolio, including an autobiography, statement of competence and resource collection.
- Early Childhood Professional Certificate (ECPC): The Florida Department of Education (DOE) offers this credential for work in preschool classrooms only. A candidate completes 120 hours of classroom instruction, including the 40 hours of DCF introductory training. The 120 hours also includes five clock hours in literacy and 10 clock hours in each of the eight content areas. Candidates also work 480 hours in the childcare setting and complete a professional portfolio like the requirements described above for DCF’s credential.
- Florida Department of Education Child Care Apprenticeship Certificate (CCAC). The CCAC is a Birth through Five Child Care Credential issued by the Florida Department of Education, obtained by completing the DOE Child Care Apprenticeship Program, and recognized as a Staff Credential. The CCAC designates a student as a Child Care Development Specialist – students complete all ECPC requirements within the Apprenticeship Program. To view a list of approved programs, click below.
- National Child Development Associate Certification (CDA): The Council for Professional Recognition offers both the original certification and a renewal process every 3 years. This certification is valid in all states. Any time before you apply you must complete 120 clock hours of professional education covering the eight CDA Subject Areas. Within 3 years before you apply: Obtain 480 hours of experience working with young children. Within 6 months before you apply prepare a CDA Professional Portfolio according to the requirements outlined in the CDA Competency Standards book. You must also meet with a CDA Professional Development Specialist. The CDA PD Specialist brings the mentoring/coaching skills and ECE expertise needed to assess the Candidate’s competencies and facilitate the Candidate’s self-reflection. The steps needed to earn CDA credentials are as follows:
- Steps for Preschool CDA Credentials can be found here: https://www.cdacouncil.org/credentials/apply-for-cda/preschool
- Steps for Infant/toddler CDA credentials can be found here: https://www.cdacouncil.org/credentials/apply-for-cda/infanttoddler
- Steps for Family Childcare CDA can be found here: https://www.cdacouncil.org/credentials/apply-for-cda/family-child-care
- The following is an explanation summarizing the requirements for a Professional Portfolio: https://ndchildcareorg.presencehost.net/file_download/9f4f5b59-0b61-414a-ae95-9de981dcfbf2
- The costs for obtaining CDA credentials are as follows:
- Initial application $425
- Renewal every 3 years $150
- Courses: online or in-person generally fall in the $700-$1000 range
More information on the National CDA can be found here: http://www.cdacouncil.org
What Financial Assistance is Available?
TEACH scholarships provide:
- The majority of the cost of tuition and books
- A per semester student access stipend for most scholars
- A tiered-bonus structure for degree-seeking scholars who complete their contract
- Counseling and administrative support
- A reimbursement to the center or family child care home for the paid leave time provided to scholars in most scholarship models
Under TEACH the state pays 80% for coursework, 90% for books, and 80% for CDA certification assessment fee. The remainder can be paid by the individual or the school where the person works. More information on TEACH can be found here: http://teach-fl.org/
Which Organizations Provide Training for Credentials?
The organizations providing the different credentials in Florida can be searched for in this portal: https://regportal.flchild.com/degreedatabase
Earning a Child Development Associate Credential
Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC B-5)
Online courses approved by Department of Children and Families
- Childcare Education Institute – cceionline.com
- Child Development Education Alliance – cdealliance.org
- Smart Horizons- http://www.smarthorizons.org/childcare/purchase/?state=fl
Online courses approved by Florida Department of Education
ECPC (Early Childhood Professional Certificate) through the Department of Education
Face to Face Classes approved by Florida Department of Education
- Ft Myers Technical College
Contact: Donna Hernandez – 239-334-4544×312 (www.lee.k12.fl.us/schools/voc)
Face to Face classes (and online options) to earn 120 hours then earn National CDA through the Council for Professional Recognition
- Florida South Western College
Contact: Dr. Kelly Roy – 239-985-3423 kelly.kantzRoy@fsw.edu
- Palm Beach State College (pbcc.edu ) Program code 5390
Contact Susy Martinez-White Program Director 561-868-3807 Martines@palmbeachstate.edu
Nancy Cabrera –Program Assistant Cabreran@palmbeachstate.edu 561-868-4041
National Early Childhood Credentials (NECC)
The Council for Professional Recognition is a group through whom a national accreditation can be earned. Any of the above credentials can lead toward a National CDA. The contact is www.cdacouncil.org . Application packets can be purchased through the Council. For specific information regarding the National CDA, see the Council for Professional Recognition website.
CDA Verification Visit
- The verification visit is a required component of the CDA credentialing process, where the Candidate will be observed working with children in a specific age group.
- It is the Candidate’s responsibility to schedule the verification visit, after they apply and receive a “Ready to Schedule” notice from the Council for Professional Recognition (the Council).
- During the visit, the Council approved early childhood specialist (professional development specialist) will go to the CDA candidate’s place of work and review the CDA Professional Portfolio, observe the candidate working with children and conduct a reflective dialogue about the candidate’s strengths and areas of growth.
The early childhood specialist (professional) will submit an evaluation and scores to the Council based on the visit. The evaluation and scores will be used as one part of the credentialing decision to determine whether the Candidate will be awarded the CDA Credential.
CDA Professional Portfolio
- The CDA Professional Portfolio is a:
- Requirement for the national CDA Credentialing Process
- Collection of specific resource materials to help you in your work with children and families
- Method for the national CDA Council to evaluate your competence
- Way to showcase your own philosophy about your work with young children and their families
- An opportunity to reflect on your own knowledge, skills and practices
Your Professional Portfolio must be completed within the six months prior to your application for CDA Credentialing.
- It must match the age group and setting for which you are applying.
- For the complete description of requirements, please refer to The Child Development Associate National Credentialing Program and CDA Competency Standards book from the national CDA Council (cdacouncil.org).
The CDA Professional Portfolio contains:
- CDA Professional Portfolio cover sheet
- Summary of CDA Education cover sheet plus:
- Documentation of your CDA training and education such as official training record or college transcript, certificates, or other verification that you have successfully completed a minimum of 120 hours of training with no fewer than 10 clock hours of training in each of the eight CDA subject areas.
- Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
- Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
- Supporting children’s social and emotional development
- Building productive relationships with families
- Managing an effective program operation
- Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
- Observing and recording children’s behavior
- Understanding principles of child development and learning
- Family Questionnaires Summary sheet plus:
- Completed Family Questionnaires, a form you distribute and collect back from the majority of the families of children in your care (a return from more than 50% of families is required).
- Six Reflective Statements of Competence
- Written statements of your own teaching practices, including one for each of the six CDA Competency Standards (300–500 words).
- It is comprised of six statements, one for each Competency Standard (see above). Your statements are intended to reflect your own teaching practices in each of the CDA Competency Standards areas.
- Your paragraphs should include information about “why” the Functional Area is important and 2-3 examples of “what” you do every day (your teaching practices) to provide that Functional Area for children. Many of the statements require that you focus on a specific resource you’ve collected for your Portfolio. For example:
- “WHY” the Functional Area is important: Example: “I know that maintaining a healthy environment in child care is important because young children in child care settings are more likely to be exposed to germs and their immune systems are not yet fully developed.”
- “WHAT” you do everyday to meet the Functional Area in your practice: Example: “To make sure my environment is healthy for children, I practice safe hand washing by using liquid soap and paper towels, and make sure to wash my hands after changing diapers, before handling food, and after cleaning or coming in from outside. I teach the children to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds to get most germs off their hands. I have a daily schedule of sanitizing surfaces and toys to prevent the spread of germs.”
- Resource Collection
- A specific collection of early childhood resources
- Professional Philosophy Statement
- A written summary of your professional beliefs and values about early childhood education, how young children learn, and your role as an early childhood educator (no more than two pages in length).