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Sunday, September 30, 2001


School-Age CDA: Reality or Fantasy? (Issue 5 – Autumn 2001)
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

A frequent question on administrator’s and director’s minds is “how do we properly train and prepare our staff?”

Because our field typically pays such low wages, often for part-time, split-shift work with no benefits, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find qualified people.

However, a program can commit to providing staff members with opportunities for education.

The CDA is offered through the Council for Professional Recognition out of Washington, D.C. You can contact them at 1-800-424-4310 or

The CDA focuses on 13 competency areas:

  • safe
  • healthy
  • learning environment
  • physical
  • cognitive
  • communication
  • creative
  • self
  • social
  • guidance
  • families
  • program management
  • professionalism

In conjunction with 120 clock hours of training, CDA candidates do written work, develop a professional resource file, and are observed working in their programs.

The CDA started about 30 years ago through Head Start and now includes certification for licensed home providers and child care providers who work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Individual states have started making moves toward developing school-age CDAs and credentialing systems. However, the greatest push has come from the U.S. Army. They developed their own version of the CDA based on the two-volume book set Caring for Children in School-Age Programs. The books cover the same 13 competency areas as the CDA through the Council. Contact Teaching Strategies at 1-800-637-3652 or at

Various states have followed suit and used the Army’s materials to develop their own credentials. Most noteworthy is the state of New York which, as of last winter, had 14 candidates who had completed the program.

If you are looking for one-time workshops focused on one topic area, then check out the Workshops page on this web site. In addition, Toolbox Training can work with you to develop a series of workshops that will span the entire school year.

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