Child Care

Education and Training

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 Early Childhood 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. 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 SDCDA Project consists of post-secondary training programs geographically distributed throughout South Dakota. 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 Resource File and other documentation of competence
  • Formal observation completed by trained CDA advisors

The SDCDA 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 Project 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:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have 480 hours of experience working with young children within the past 5 years
  • Have 120 hours of formal early childhood education completed within the past 5 years

SDCDA is part of the statewide Early Childhood Enrichment Network. People who would like more information about SDCDA training available in their area, enrollment procedures and program costs are encouraged to contact a regional Early Childhood Enrichment site.