performance. The program was funded by the US Department of
Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth,
For the first ten years, the CDA program was directed by a
coalition of early childhood professional associations, including
Bank Street College of Education. In 1979, the program added
bilingual Competency Standards and assessment requirements
to the system, so candidates in bilingual programs could also be
At first, the program only assessed workers in center-based
preschool programs that served children ages three to five.
Between 1985 and 1989, the CDA assessment system was ex-
panded to include caregivers in home visitor and family child care
In the spring of 1985, the National Association for the
Education of Young Children (NAEYC) began managing the
CDA program and set up a separate entity of the organization to
administer the program nationally. It was called the Council for
Professional Recognition. The Council took on complete respon-
sibility for the program in the fall of 1985. As the result of three
years of study and review, the procedures for assessment and na-
tional standards for the delivery of CDA training were developed.
The Council continues to conduct research on the effectiveness,
relevance, and affordability of the credentialing program, periodi-
cally making revisions (Council for Professional Recognition 2006,
Beginning in 2011, the Council expanded its scope as not
only an “assessment” organization, but also as an organization
promoting professional development, with the CDA Credential as
the first step in this process.
In 2013, the Council introduced CDA 2.0. The original
Competency Standards and the accompanying thirteen Functional
Areas have remained the same, but the procedures and process of
assessment have changed significantly.
This new process is much more integrated, with each part
relating to the others. It also provides opportunity for the CDA
candidate to reflect upon her training, her experience, and feed-
back from others about her work with young children. Instead of
just being a means toward an end, a credential, the CDA process
itself has become a valuable professional development experience.
In a way, it has become more developmentally appropriate for
early childhood professionals—valuing process over product!
This credentialing process has also shifted more responsibility
to the candidate, who will need to meet specific deadlines, locate
a Professional Development Specialist (called the PD Specialist),
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