Skip to content
Search this website:

Two Child Development Associate Credential Certifications Achieved, Many More to Go

By Hilary Magaro, Professional Development Manager at Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning

In the realm of early childhood education (ECE), the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a significant milestone. The certification, most commonly pursued by early childhood educators, childcare providers, preschool teachers, teacher assistants, and other professionals involved in the care and education of young children, is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition, a leading authority in the field of ECE.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS) recognizes the value a CDA provides, both in transforming career potential for educators and in enhancing children’s experiences in the classroom. The process enables CDA candidates to gain valuable insights, reflect on their practice, and continuously strive to improve their skills and effectiveness as early childhood professionals. In turn, once achieved, this results in improved learning outcomes, better social and emotional development, and enhanced overall well-being for children in the classroom.

CHS provides the necessary resources, supports, and mentors for teaching staff who have not yet obtained a higher education degree in ECE or whose current degree is in an unrelated field to achieve their CDA. In most cases, the process of obtaining a CDA at CHS begins during the nearly year-long paid professional development program, a time dedicated to expanding ECE knowledge, establishing team dynamics, and integrating into the CHS mission before each Center’s opening.

Steps to Achieving a CDA

1. Education and Training: The first step towards obtaining a CDA is to complete the required education and training in early childhood education. This may include formal education programs, workshops, seminars, and on-the-job training. At CHS, our staff obtains the needed training hours through our nearly year-long paid professional development program. 

2. Professional Experience: CDA candidates must have relevant professional experience working with young children in a childcare setting. The Council for Professional Recognition specifies the number of hours of experience required based on the candidate’s chosen CDA setting (infant/toddler or preschool).

3. CDA Assessment: Once the education and experience requirements are met, candidates must complete the CDA assessment process. This involves compiling a professional portfolio, gathering resource materials, creating lesson plans, responding to reflective statements of competence, and undergoing a formal observation by a CDA Professional Development Specialist.

4. Verification Visit: After successfully completing the assessment process, candidates undergo a verification visit, during which a CDA Professional Development Specialist verifies the candidate’s qualifications and assesses their competence in working with young children.

5. Award of CDA Credential: Upon successful completion of all requirements, candidates are awarded the CDA credential, which demonstrates their competence and proficiency in the field of early childhood education.

While the piece of paper that culminates the achievement of a CDA may appear like the end of the process, it is just the beginning of its impact on educators, the ECE field, and the children in their care.

In February 2024, Sara Crowther and Shayna Pressley were the first two CHS employees to achieve their CDAs. Both individuals are teachers at Catherine Hershey School for Early Learning, Hershey, the first CHS location, which opened in fall 2023. With the nearly year-long paid professional development program underway for the CHS Harrisburg team in preparation for the Center’s opening later this year and CHS Middletown’s professional development program launching with brand new staff this fall, many more CDA’s are on the horizon.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning are subsidiaries of Milton Hershey School and will be staffed and operated independently of the Milton Hershey School core model.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.