How to Complete a CDA Portfolio


The Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C., administers the Childhood Development Associate credential. An individual earns the CDA credential by successfully completing an assessment offered by the Council that demonstrates the candidate’s competence in the core areas. Professionals working in the career fields of early childhood development, such as child-care providers, often pursue CDA recognition to further their careers, as well as to qualify for positions with employers such as Head Start that require the CDA credential for employment. Completing a CDA portfolio is a major portion of demonstrating your competency.

  • Obtain an official application packet from the Council for Professional Recognition. Consult the official packet throughout the portfolio development process for further details about documents and requirements.

  • Create a log of your formal child-care education hours. Provide dates, hours and course descriptions for each course. Separate education hours into the eight subject areas: planning a safe, healthy environment to invite learning; steps to advance children’s physical and intellectual development; positive ways to support children’s social and emotional development; strategies to establish productive relationships with families; strategies to manage an effective program operation; maintaining a commitment to professionalism; observing and recording children’s behavior; and principles of child development and learning.

  • Include official verification of your education hours from the organizations and agencies that provided the training. Attach copies (not originals) of official transcripts, certificates or letters attesting to the course work.

  • Write a brief, 300-word autobiography. Focus the majority of your narrative on your professional career working with young children. Update your resume to include your most recent work experiences and educational history.

  • Follow the guidelines in the official application packet to write your six competency statements. Demonstrate your competency in the six goal areas of child care with a one- or two-paragraph statement. Cover all six goal areas: establishing and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment; advancing physical and intellectual competence; supporting social and emotional development and providing positive guidance; establishing positive and productive relationships with families; ensuring a well-run, purposeful program responsive to participant needs; and maintaining a commitment to professionalism.

  • Obtain completed parent opinion questionnaires. Locate the questionnaires in the application packet and follow the directions to distribute and collect responses.

  • Organize all of the above documents in your portfolio according to the order provided above. Check each document for completeness and cleanness. Reprint any documents that appear messy or incomplete.

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