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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL teaching positions, or become directors. Others who are just enter- ing the field may need a CDA to be considered for a position. New research, which continues to show the importance of the early years in terms of children’s development, offers strong mo- tivation to provide quality care and education in early childhood programs. The only way to accomplish this is to ensure that care providers meet nationally recognized standards in their work with young children. The CDA program provides the means to assess and creden- tial child care providers on the basis of their work with young children, in their particular workplace setting, with the age group of children they teach. Aside from meeting mandates or enhancing personal market- ability, going through the CDA process will reward you with confidence and new insight into working with young children. In the process, you will likely gain a sense of personal satisfac- tion in knowing you have the knowledge and tools to do your professional best in your career as an early childhood educator. Completing the CDA Credential is also a great first step in your journey toward continued professional development and lifelong learning. Regardless of your point of origin—center-based caregiver, family child care provider, center director, or potential early childhood professional—this book will help you understand and complete the CDA process. You may be in a formal CDA preparatory program or you may be working on your own. Whichever the case, you will be sure to appreciate the easy-to-understand answers, suggestions, and support. You are embarking on a journey through a series of steps required to earn your CDA Credential. To do this, you will need to complete the 120 clock hours of training, gather documentation, submit the application, take an exam, and participate in the verifi- cation visit with a PD Specialist. When this process is completed, your abilities as a primary care and education provider for young children will be substantiated by this professional, nationally rec- ognized credential, suitable for framing. Be prepared to work hard, learn much, and be extremely proud of your accomplishments. How to Use This Guide The information in this book is intended to supplement the materials you have received from the Council for Professional Recognition in The Child Development Associate National COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction xi