CDA Training Pathways

Online • Live or On-Demand • 120 PD Hrs

This program guides candidates through the entire CDA credentialing process. The self-paced coursework gives learners the flexibility to study on their own schedule while dedicated faculty provide one-on-one coaching and additional support to ensure all of our learners complete the entire CDA program.

Earning a CDA® credential demonstrates educators’ knowledge, skills, and abilities in the early childhood education field as well as their commitment to professional development. Designed for working Head Start and Early Head Start professionals, The Academy’s CDA® Training Pathways program gives learners the flexibility and support they need to achieve their goals. 

Learners can complete the training on-demand or have access to the full pathway—completely online. Which program is right for you? Explore the options:

Features On-Demand Program Live Training Pathway
Best-in-class preparation to take the Council of Professional Recognition's CDA Exam (120 hours of education)
Exclusive Head Start modules, featuring the knowledge to succeed in any Head Start classroom across the country
Coursework activities to prepare a professional portfolio throughout the course
All course materials, including the CDA Competency Standards book
CDA exam cost as well as the verification visit; both are mandatory requirements to obtain the CDA credential
Regular online meetings with CDA Professional Development coaches
One-on-one check-ins on deadlines and milestones
Portfolio Review by professional development coach
Access to a support guide to identify mentors within their program
Support scheduling verification visit and CDA exam.
Access to a national cohort of peers
Bonus: A Pathway Beyond On-Demand Program Live Training Pathway
Enrollment support to National University
Six semester credits towards a bachelor’s degree at National University. This credit-bearing program is recognized as the equivalent of taking the following courses: "ECE 201: The Growing Child: Zero to 8" and "HED 220: Health, Nutrition, and Safety."

The CDA Pathway is designed for educators working in the following settings: 1) preschool; 2) with infants and toddlers; 3) family child care; and 4) home visitor environments. In addition to meeting the Council for Professional Recognition’s coursework requirements, this training provides learners with everything they need to know to succeed in Head Start.

Start Dates: 

Target Audience: Instruction and Effective Practice, Parents and Families, Support Services


  • High school diploma/GED or be enrolled in a high school career and technical program.
  • 480 hours of experience working with children in the group setting the candidate is earning the CDA in (Infant/Toddler or Preschool). The CDA candidate should have 80% of these hours completed by the time they apply for the CDA credential with the Council for Professional Recognition.

Completion Timeline/Duration: Four months

Head Start Alignment: Includes alignments with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework in each module.

Course Outline

Module Topics:

The CDA Course modules are aligned with the CDA Competency Standards.

  1. To establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment
  2. To advance physical and intellectual competence
  3. To support social and emotional development and to provide positive guidance
  4. To establish positive and productive relationships with families
  5. To ensure a well-run, purposeful program that is responsive to participants needs
  6. To maintain a commitment to professionalism

Learning Objectives: 

  • Learn to work effectively with children and families by understanding and implementing the CDA competency standards in daily work with children in a classroom setting
  • Gain a deeper understanding of child development principles and their effective implementation in each learning experience throughout the day
  • Identify key elements of management and professionalism in early childhood

Professional Development Coaches

Dedicated faculty members provide one-on-one support and help guide learners through the entire credentialing process.

Patty Berrón

Patty Berrón

Patty Berron is a Bilingual Instructor-Trainer, Coach, Mentor, CDA PDS-Professional Development Specialist, ECD Reviewer, NHSA Quality Initiative Reviewer, Early Head Start Reviewer Panelist, 2003 HS Fellowship Commissioner, CDA Instructor in Migrant Head Start Programs, American Indian Alaska Native Head Start Programs, Child Care Programs, School District, Early Childhood Associations, Universities, and paraprofessional schools. Head Start Fellow (2001), and a Former Head Start Parent. She has an Early Childhood Education Background, her master’s is focused on Professional Counseling, and she is in the process of finishing her Ph.D.

Felicia Deatherage

Felicia Deatherage

Ms. Deatherage has worked in Early Head Start, Head Start, and in the education field for over 15 years. Beginning as a Head Start parent herself, she now serves as the director of Quality Assurance and Special Services for CAP Tulsa, overseeing compliance monitoring operations for the agency as well as partnerships with the agency’s Local Education Agencies (LEA) and Part C Agency for providing services to children with disabilities. She has provided trainings and coaching on a state, regional, and national level to other Head Start agencies to enhance their current operations. She is a professor at Tulsa Community College, where she teaches bilingual Child Development Associate (CDA) classes in the evenings for working professionals. She has a master’s degree in Business Administration from Northeastern State University and a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Oklahoma State University. Additionally, she serves as membership chair for the agency’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Committee and was accepted into the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice’s Inclusive Leadership Institute in 2021 for her interest in advancing inclusion and cultural awareness.

Amy Fain

Amy Fain

Amy had been in the early childhood education field since 1989, holding positions as teacher, mentor, site director, vice president of operations and Manager of the Oklahoma Early Childhood Program (OECP) for CAP Tulsa. Her credentials include a Bachelor's Degree in Education, Certified Program for Infant Toddler Care, consultant and trainer for many ECE programs, Oklahoma Registry for Directors, Dr. Brazleton’s Touchpoints Early Care and Education Training Program, Council for Professional Development CDA advisor, and Resources for Infant Educare (RIE I). Amy has trained teachers in early childhood education on many levels. She has been presenting at local and national Head Start conferences since 1998 and has been an adjunct professor at Tulsa Community College for 10 years. Amy was recognized as one of Oklahoma’s Top Ten for early childhood at the Friends of Early Childhood conference. Most recently, she was recognized as a Master Leader in Early Childhood by Child Care Exchange.

Janet Lucy

Janet Lucy

Child Development Services Coordinator at the Anoka Washington County Head Start Program Janet Lucy has worked in the education field for the past 25 years supervising, coaching, and supporting teachers. She has helped many teachers obtain their CDA credentials over the years by supporting CDA candidates with their portfolio binders, writing their reflective competency statements, and offering encouragement along the way. She believes there is no better reward than being able to work in the field of early childhood education while growing personally and professionally!

Course Author

Zuly Vazquez

Zuly Vazquez

Zuly is the Manager of Early Head Start Professional Learning Programs at NHSA. She has worked with Head Start, and Early Head Start programs for over a decade, specializing in training, mentoring, coaching, facilitation, curriculum implementation, and management. She worked for several years in the classroom, providing high-quality education to children from different cultures, traditions, and ethnicities. She is a former EHS/HS parent. She has vast experience supporting and providing technical assistance to teachers, family child care providers, education specialists, and families in large EHS/HS programs in Florida and Georgia. Over her career, she designed a supplemental Christian early childhood curriculum, bilingual online lessons, and classroom observation tools and has facilitated early childhood education courses in English and Spanish at the college level. As an active early childhood advocate, she is a board member of her local NAEYC affiliate and Family Child Care Home Alliance of Georgia. She is a senior advisor of Latinas United for the Children of America.

Registration Rates

Live Online Training Program

Regular Rate: $2,000

NHSA Member Rate: $1,200

On-Demand Program

Regular Rate: $425

NHSA Member Rate: $295

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Program Outline

  • Online, Self-paced Coursework
  • Six Months of Access to Online Course
  • Video Content
  • Access to Cohort of Peers
  • Discussion Forums

Completion Includes

  • Certificate of Completion
  • Best-in-class preparation to take The Council of Professional Recognition's CDA Exam
  • Enrollment support to National University 
  • Six Semester Credits

What learners are saying...

“I learned so much and couldn't have done it with out the very helpful program support. They encouraged me and guided me through my success! It was a great experience and I gained valuable information to use in the classroom.” 

- Jessica Cartagena, Classroom Aid, Luzerne County Head Start, Inc.

“The video content was so valuable. I am a visual learner so I needed to see what to do instead of just reading the books and reading the materials online.”

- Evelyn Wilson, The School District of Philadelphia

"I did this course online and had support to serve as a cheerleader that kept me going!"

- Martha Cryor, Classroom Assistant, The School District of Philadelphia

"This course presents state-of-the-art information in a variety of engaging and interactive formats."

- Andi Lybrand, Early Childhood Specialist and Curriculum Development Consultant

"At first it seemed too simple, but the teachers were able to focus more on the quality of the content rather than the quantity of content that we have experienced from other curricula. We have now received certificates for all 16 of our latest CDA Cohort which was our first cohort to use NHSA’s curriculum!"

- Amy Shirley, Career Development & Credential Team Lead, CAP Tulsa (On-Demand Program)



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