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CDA Training Pathways

Online • Live • 120 PD Hrs

This program guides candidates through the entire CDA credentialing process. The self-paced coursework gives students the flexibility to learn on their own schedule, while our dedicated faculty provide one-on-one coaching and the additional support necessary to ensure all of our students 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/Early Head Start professionals, The Academy’s CDA® Training Pathway gives learners the flexibility and support they need to achieve their goals.

This four-month program guides and coaches candidates through the entire credentialing process and provides a comprehensive network of support to ensure every candidate completes the program, including

  • Regular meetings with CDA Professional Development coaches
  • One-on-one check-ins on deadlines and milestones
  • Access to a national cohort of peers
  • A navigator, a mentor who can show local support and encouragement

The CDA Pathway is designed for educators working in pre-school settings or with infants and toddlers. In addition to meeting the Council for Professional Recognition’s coursework requirements, this training provides candidates with everything they need to know to succeed in Head Start.

Start Dates: New cohorts are accepted on a monthly basis (See registration page for more information on upcoming availability)

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


  • Earn a minimum of a high school diploma/GED or be enrolled in a high school career and technical program.
  • Complete 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 of enrollment in the NHSA CDA course.

Completion Timeline/Duration: Four months

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

A Pathway Beyond

Educators who earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential through this program will receive support enrolling at National University and nine semester credits towards their Bachelor’s Degree—at no additional cost. This credit-bearing program is recognized as the equivalent of taking "ECE 201: The Growing Child: Zero to 8," "HED 220: Health, Nutrition, and Safety," and "ECE 210: Child, Family, School, and Community.”

Course Outline

Course Author

Zuly Vazquez

Zuly Vazquez

Zuly is the Associate Manager of Early Head Start 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.

Professional Development Coaches

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!

Registration Rates

Regular Rate: $2,000

NHSA Member Rate: $1,200

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Program Outline

  • Online, Self Paced Coursework
  • Live Sessions with Professional Development Coach
  • 120 hours of education and portfolio requirements
  • Six Months of Access to Online Course
  • All Course Materials: the CDA Competency Standards book, CDA essentials book, and CDA essential workbook
  • The CDA Exam cost is included as well as the verification visit both mandatory requirements to obtain the CDA credential
  • 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 
  • Nine Semester Credits



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