Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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Training and Education

Credential Programs

Early childhood and school-age professionals may elect to enroll in two credential programs available through the state’s Early Childhood Enrichment (ECE) training system:  1) The South Dakota Child Development Associate Program or 2) the South Dakota Out-of-School Time credential. 

1. Child Development Associate Project

The purpose of the South Dakota Child Development Associate (SDCDA) Training Project is to enhance the availability of early childhood professional training and mentorship for individuals who work with children in child care centers, family child care homes, preschools and Head Start programs.

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a nationally recognized early childhood professional credential administered by the Council for Professional Recognition based in Washington D.C. The Council operates the CDA Credentialing Program as a major national effort to improve the quality of care children receive in early childhood programs. http://www.cdacouncil.org/ People who pursue the CDA credential learn to demonstrate their ability to nurture young children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth. CDA candidates may choose to complete the credentialing procedures for the following endorsements:

  • Pre-school Center-Based
  • Infant/Toddler Center-Based
  • Family Child Care
  • Home Visitor

The South Dakota Child Development Associate (SDCDA) Training Program, coordinated by the South Dakota Early Childhood Enrichment (ECE) System is designed to provide comprehensive early childhood training and mentorship for individuals who work with children in a child care setting to meet the 120-hr training requirement for the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential.

The SDCDA curriculum provides formal early childhood training and professional mentorship assisting each student in the process of meeting the requirements necessary to complete the national CDA assessment process, including:

  • 120 clock hours of formal education
  • Professional Portfolio and other documentation of competence

The SDCDA Program classes are offered during hours convenient for people who work with young children during the day. The following SDCDA courses address the eight training areas required by the Council for the national CDA assessment procedures:

  • The Early Childhood Profession
  • Health, Safety and Nutrition
  • Child Development and Planning
  • Partnerships with Parents
  • Programs for Young Children

The SDCDA Program offers professional growth training opportunities to individuals who are either currently working with young children or wish to pursue a career in the early childhood field. Students may begin the training when they are 16 years of age while also completing the requirements to obtain a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many students pursue this training years after they have completed their high school education. Prior to applying for the national CDA assessment, the student must:

  • Have a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have 480 hours of experience working with young children within the past 3 years
  • Have 120 hours of formal early childhood education completed in the 8 Subject Areas

For more information about SDCDA training available in your area, enrollment procedures and program costs, contact a regional Early Childhood Enrichment site.

2. SD OST Credential 

Staff working in programs serving school-age children may enroll in the South Dakota Out-of-School Time (OST) Credential training program.  The SD OST Credential is a state-administered professional credential, modeled after the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Currently, there is no national credential specifically tailored for school-age care, and many states like South Dakota, have developed their own models which may be ‘grandfathered in’ once a national credential is available.
This credential involves 120 hours of coursework either by a combination of in-person and online or all online training through the statewide ECE training network. An Advisor located at an ECE office in the student’s region is assigned to help guide the student toward successful completion of all requirements to earn the state credential, which include:    

  • 120 clock hours of formal education
  • 480 hours of experience working with school-age children
  • A professional resource file and other documentation of competence
  • A formal observation completed by the regional OST Credential advisor
  • A formal representative visit which includes a written and oral interview

People who pursue the SD OST Credential learn to demonstrate their ability to nurture school-age children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth.
For more information, contact a regional Early Childhood Enrichment site.