The CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential is a widely recognized, national credential in early childhood education. The ReadyKids CDA is a self-paced study program for center- or home-based child care providers to obtain the CDA credential.  It is designed for adults already working in child care settings who want to further their education but may not choose or have access to online CDA classes or who do not wish to enroll in community college classes. Classes are held monthly.  Required reading, homework and tests are assigned between classes.

The ReadyKids CDA class will provide guidance on the additional steps CDA candidates will need to take to qualify for credentialing through the Council for Professional Recognition.  These steps include developing your own professional resource file, distributing parent questionnaires, writing competency statements, and preparing for the observation and written exam.

ReadyKids staff are available to support you in completing all aspects of your program!  When all assignments and classes are completed, the candidate will receive the certificate for 120 clock hours of study needed to apply for the CDA Credential through the Council for Professional Recognition (more information about the CDA can be found at www.cdacouncil.org).

CDA subject areas include:

  • 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
  • Observing and recording children’s behavior
  • Understanding principles of child development and learning

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate?

To participate, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older and hold a high school diploma or G.E.D.
  • Be currently employed or volunteering in a child care center or family day home
  • Attend at least one class per month and complete required assessments

What is the cost to enroll?

  • Are you employed by an early childhood program located in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County?
  • Are you employed by an early childhood program that participates with Virginia Quality?

If you answer yes to either of the above questions, you may attend CDA classes at ReadyKids at no cost to you.  (See below for more information about required books.)

  • For students employed by an early childhood program located in another locality, and NOT participating with Virginia Quality, the fee is $75. Please see below for more information about required books.

What books do I need, and where do I get them?

Below are the titles/authors of the required books.  You may purchase, share, or borrow your books.  If you wish to purchase your books, there are several websites you may want to use.  We can also purchase your books for you, using a check or money order payable to ReadyKids. You can purchase through websites such as Teaching Strategies or Amazon.  Some students have found used books on eBay.  The books come in a set of two.  Purchased new, they are round $95.  If you work at a program that is enrolled in Virginia Quality, the cost of your books may be covered through a local grant.

Choose the book that corresponds to the setting and ages you teach.

  • Center-based, Preschool (ages 3-5):
    • Caring for Preschool Children and Caring for Preschool Children Skill-Building Journal, written by Derry G. Koralek, Diane Trister Dodge, Peter Pizzolongo.
  • Center-based, Infant Toddler (ages 0-3):
    • Caring for Infants and Toddlers and Caring for Infants and Toddlers Skill-Building Journal, written by Derry G. Koralek, Diane Trister Dodge, Peter Pizzolongo.
  • Family Chlid Care:
    • Caring for Children in Family Day Care, Volume 1 and 2, written by Derry G. Koralek, Diane Trister Dodge, Peter Pizzolongo.

Additionally, within 6 months of applying for the CDA, candidates must purchase a CDA Competency Book ($33) from the Council for Professional Recognition, selecting the appropriate book for the type of credential they wish to receive.

  • Preschool – for Candidates working in a center-based setting with 3-5 year olds
  • Infant/Toddler – for Candidates working in a center-based setting with children from birth-36 months
  • Family Child Care – for Candidates working with one or all age groups in a family child care home

The CDA Competency Book contains all of the documents that Candidates will need to apply for the CDA assessment.  Each book is customized for the selected child care setting and contains the instructions for the professional portfolio and the application form to have your verification visit and take the exam.

(Financial support may be available for the purchase of the CDA Competency Book for students working at programs enrolled with Virginia Quality.)

When and where are classes held?

Classes are currently schedule to be held at the Education Center at ReadyKids, 1000 East High Street, Charlottesville VA 22902.

Enrollment is on a rolling schedule.  Please contact Suzanne McDonald to enroll.

Funding is provided in whole or in part by the federal Child Care and Development Fund through the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Development.