Logo representing Southeast Children's Fund located in Washington, D.C.

Southeast Childrens fund

Child Development Associate Credential

If you are an early care and education professional or DC resident in need of the CDA credential, Southeast Children’s Fund (SCF) offers an opportunity to earn your CDA at no cost to you. By providing free CDA coursework, supporting early educators to complete other CDA requirements and covering 100 percent of the costs, SCF’s program provides all the support you need to earn your CDA now! Learn more about the CDA credential and how to enroll in SCF’s CDA training and preparation program below.

Program Description

The CDA credential is awarded to early care and education professionals who have met the competency standards
established by the Council for Professional Recognition. The CDA is a widely recognized credential and can help
educators advance their career in the field of early care and education. Earning the CDA credential signifies that an early
childhood educator has the ability, skills and knowledge to nurture the physical, emotional, intellectual and social
development of young children. As of Dec. 2, 2023, all assistant teachers, associate home caregivers and home
caregivers in child development facilities licensed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will be
required to hold a CDA.

Why attend the CDA training and preparation at SCF?

SCF Professional Development Institute is a non-degree post-secondary institution and early childhood training
organization that supports practitioners with a diverse scope of training and program support services including CDA
training, workforce initiatives and ongoing professional development options. Students who attend CDA training and
preparation at SCF can obtain CDA training for both center- and home-based settings. Find more information on how to
enroll in the program and scholarship opportunities below.

How does an educator earn a CDA?

SCF provides guided instruction with knowledgeable educators who guide early childhood educators through each part of the CDA process. To earn the CDA credential, an early childhood educator must:

1. Complete 120 hours of professional education in early childhood development;
2. Complete 480 hours of work experience with your specified age group;
3. Complete a professional development portfolio;
4. Schedule and complete verification visit; and
5. Schedule and pass the CDA exam.

What does the CDA coursework include?

The CDA Credential focuses on six Competency Standards and 13 Functional Areas, which comprise eight subject areas:

1. Planning a safe and healthy learning environment;
2. Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development;
3. Supporting children’s social and emotional development;
4. Building productive relationships with families;
5. Managing an effective program;
6. Maintaining a commitment to professionalism;
7. Observing and recording behavior; and
8. Understanding the principle of child development and learning.

CDA exam preparation through scenario-based training

The CDA exam is one of the most important factors in obtaining the CDA credential. SCF prepares early childhood
educators with the tools and support needed to pass the test.


SCF’s CDA training and preparation program provides fun and innovative training. SCF uses a scenario-based approach,
which trains the mind to react to various situations that arise in the classroom to prepare educators for similar situations
that occur in real life.

Need to renew your CDA credential?

If you wish to renew your CDA credential, you must receive a minimum of 4.5 continuing education units (CEU) or 45
additional hours of coursework in early childhood education that is specific and relevant to your CDA credential type
(i.e., Infant and Toddler, Preschool and Family Child Care). These additional hours of coursework can be obtained
through Quorum or other OSSE-offered training and must be completed within three years of receiving your initial CDA
credential and every five years thereafter. To renew your CDA credential, please contact us at southeastcda@gmail.com 

or (202) 561-5500 ext. 2. For further information, please visit the Council for Professional Recognition’s website at www.cdacouncil.org.

How do I register for SCF’s CDA training and preparation program?

First, complete the CDA interest form. Then, register for the information session by calling (202) 561-5500 ext. 2.
At the information session you will learn:

  • Why the CDA is the “Best First Step”?
  • Steps to prepare, apply and earn your CDA Credential
  • What is a professional portfolio?
  • Advantages of choosing either face-to-face or online learning.

Attending the information session is not required but attendance is highly encouraged and counts for 3 hours toward the 120 hours of training needed to earn the CDA credential.

Are there scholarships available for early childhood educators to enroll in SCF’s CDA training and preparation program?

Yes. To qualify for the CDA training and preparation program scholarship at SCF, you must meet the following requirements:

1. Be a District resident or be employed in a child development facility licensed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE);
2. Have a high school diploma or GED;
3. Fill out the CDA interest form; and
4. Complete the following forms:

For questions related to the CDA training and preparation program at SCF or resources for early childhood educators,
please contact SCF at southeastcda@gmail.com or at (202) 561-5500 ext. 2. You may also contact the OSSE ECE Help Desk at ECEhelpdesk@dc.gov or (202) 406-0422.