Two women working at the Little Village Learning Center in Ketchikan recently received their Child Development Associate Credentials.
Lindsey Arnette and Betty Csech each spent about four to six months completing the program. The CDA is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education.
Jessica Mills Clark is Ketchikan’s outreach liaison for the Association for the Education of Young Children. Clark says individuals offering child care out of their homes do not need a CDA, but childcare centers must have at least one staff member with a CDA on site. She says having two professional-level childcare providers at one facility provides greater flexibility.
“Licensing requires a CDA to be on-site at all times and, if you only have one person who has this credential, that person has to open and close. Having childcare open early in the morning and into the evening hours meets the needs of working parents.”
Clark says CDAs are not only caregivers, they are also educators.
“Teaching infants and toddlers is a profession. It takes a variety of skills because children at this young age learn within their environments from the people in their environments.
Lindsey Arnette says getting her CDA was a lengthy process. She needed 120 credit hours of classes and trainings, and 480 hours of experience working with children, and she had to create a professional portfolio. She also was observed interacting with children and quizzed by a professional. Arnette says the hard work was well worth it.
“I’ve learned a great deal, and I’m so much more confident with every age group that we work with here. I work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school agers. I feel like I have a handle on what their needs are and how best to meet them. So I think it’s a great thing. It’s definitely good.”
Arnette says having the credential also increases employment opportunities.
“Before I got my CDA I was just basically a caregiver. But now, having my CDA under my belt, I could be a substitute teacher at a school. I could be an assistant teacher. I am now the preschool teacher here at the daycare. So it definitely widens what you can do in child development.
Betty Csech agrees getting the CDA was worth the effort. She says she plans to take additional classes.
“It is rewarding, interesting. I found a lot of the classes that I got to take online, which was very convenient, were very interesting. I’ve actually started looking at more of the classes that I don’t need any more but just were of interest at that time.”
Csech encourages others to consider a career in childcare.
“It’s very rewarding working with kids, so it’s definitely something that people should consider. It’s definitely a fun career.”
Jessica Mills Clark says there is need for additional childcare providers in Ketchikan. Those interested in learning more about the CDA program can contact the Association for the Education of Young Children at 888-785-1235.