A credential is a professional development achievement that is documented to verify or prove a person's qualifications. Credentials are typically professional designations that do not apply to college degree programs. In some cases, a valid Credential may be accepted for college credit on a school by school basis. College credits may also be used toward completing a Credential, at the determination of the organization that issues the Credential.
Several early childhood professional credentials are recognized as hiring qualifications in the field nationwide. Most notably, the national Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is recognized by most state licensing systems and is a hiring consideration in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. In North Dakota, a valid CDA Credential is an accepted licensing qualification for a Center Director.
The Growing Futures Career Pathways specifically recognizes two national early childhood professional credentials: the Aim4Excellence™ Center Director Credential and the Child Development Associate (CDA).
Aim4Excellence Center Director Credential
Aim4Excellence™ is an online national director credential for early childhood administrators. The credential focuses on the essential knowledge and skills directors need to deliver high-quality programming for children. Aim4Excellence™ includes nine self-paced modules. Modules can be taken for credit or CEUs through University of North Dakota (UND) or for noncredit. Aim4Excellence™ is a project of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. Completion of the Aim4Excellence™ Center Direct Credential is a qualification for placement at Career Pathways Category F.
Child Development Associate Credential (CDA)
Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) is a national early childhood professional credential for direct caregivers of children ages 0–5 years in family/group, center-based, and Head Start programs. The CDA credential is administered by the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC, which sets the requirements for completion of the CDA and awards the CDA Credential. A valid CDA Credential is the qualification for placement in Career Pathways Category E.
Find a CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist
CDA Candidates are required to select a PD Specialist to support them through the CDA verification process. Candidates must include an ID number for the PD Specialist on their application for CDA credentialing. The CDA Council website includes a Find-A-PD Specialist Online Directory. Simply enter your zip code to locate PD Specialists in your area.