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What is a Child Development Associate® (CDA)?

The Child Development Associate (CDA) is a nationally recognized early childhood credential designed to assess early childhood educator’s knowledge, skills and abilities using multiple sources of evidence such as an exam, observation and professional portfolio. The purpose of this credential is to ensure that early childhood educators are providing high quality care and meeting the developmental, emotional and educational needs of children.

The CDA cohort program at CCRI is a FREE instructional program available to Child Care providers, who are CCAP & BrightStars approved and are working with infants/toddlers or preschool age children.

Upon completion of the CDA program, eligible students can apply to the RI-T.E.A.C.H scholarship program to cover a portion of the cost of the Council for Professional Recognition CDA exam. The RI-T.E.A.C.H contractual agreement will cover 90% of the CDA exam. The remaining 10% of the CDA Assessment application fee will be divided evenly between the sponsoring center/employer and the student. Upon receipt of the Nationally Accredited CDA certificate, the student will be eligible to receive a $100.00 bonus paid by RI-T.E.A.C.H.

To qualify your center must:

  • Be in good standings and hold a current DHS license.
  • Be approved with DHS-Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and serving CCAP children.
  • Be actively enrolled and rated by the RI Quality Rating and Improvement System known as BrightStars.

The 14-week Cohort model will meet weekly to assist participants to:

  • Receive instruction to gain an understanding of the 6 CDA Competency Standards.
  • Receive guidance in preparing the Professional Portfolio.
  • Receive guidance in developing a Philosophy Statement.
  • Develop Community Supports.
  • Link students to the RI-T.E.A.C.H. coordinator for scholarship funds and exam registration assistance.
  • Receive 42 hours of RI State Approved Professional Development Hours.
  • Receive guidance in completing the CDA online application process and pre-exam requirements.


For more information, please contact:

Lori Ryan
Program Coordinator
Community College of Rhode Island
Department of Human Services
[email protected]