The nationally transferable Child Development Associate Credential, regarded as a crucial component of career development for aspiring early childhood educators, requires the successful fulfillment of a basic set of competency standards related to nurturing a child's mental stimulation, physical growth, social ability and emotional development. Credentialed Child Development Associates must both understand and be able to implement these critical competency standards, specifically in terms of a child's successful progression from one stage of development to the next.
Competency standards related to earning the CDA credential are separated into six categories, each defined as goals that caregivers must be capable of attaining.
Goal 1 involves the need to create and perpetuate a healthful, secure learning space. Goal 2 is about fostering mental competence through cognitive, creative and communicative thinking, and also the importance of physical competence. Goal 3 concerns emotional growth and social maturation in childhood, and an educator's ability to provide guidance as children navigate these challenging developmental pathways. Goal 4 stresses the importance of supportive family ties and underscores the positive benefits commonly derived from consistent, loving familial bonds. Goal 5, about program management, establishes the promise that all participants encounter a smoothly run, purpose-driven program that responds to patient need. Goal 6 serves as a reminder to the educator about professionalism, and reinforces the importance first and foremost of a professional attitude, approach and environment.