North Carolina collaborated with the Council for Professional Recognition (the Council) to develop the first state Infant/Toddler Child Development Associate (I/T CDA) credential that is nationally recognized.
North Carolina initiated the project in part to meet the need for professional development for Early Head Start (EHS) teachers in new and expanded programs.
North Carolina’s strong community college system laid the foundation for the effort. All 58 community colleges in the state use a common course library. This gives students one access point to all curriculum and continuing education courses offered by the North Carolina Community College System. A curriculum improvement project conducted between 2006 and 2008 provided an opportunity for state leaders to crosswalk existing early childhood courses with CDA competencies. Leaders found that the two aligned very well, and only one new course had to be created to meet the CDA Council’s conditions. The resulting I/T CDA requires 16-18 credit hours from a specified list of courses. North Carolina’s common course library ensures the classes are available statewide, and that students can combine credits from multiple community colleges to achieve the I/T CDA.
The I/T CDA is integrated into the state’s licensing and quality rating and improvement systems. It is also embedded in the state’s professional development pathways. All of the courses required for the I/T CDA count toward an early childhood associate degree. The state created a brochure to educate EHS and other early childhood professionals about the new opportunity. In addition, it held several webinars and trainings for community college faculty so they would have the information necessary to advise potential students. Students pursuing coursework for the I/T CDA are eligible for T.E.A.C.H. scholarships.
In 2013, the Council also began offering an online application process for the CDA.
North Carolina also developed a nationally recognized Preschool CDA. More information on both credentials is available from the North Carolina Head Start Collaboration Office, the North Carolina Community College System Office, and the Child Care Services Association.
Reviewed May 2018.