Certification options for childcare workers include Certified Childcare Professional (CCP), Child Development Associate (CDA) and National Administrator Credential (NAC). Individuals must meet eligibility requirements to earn these designations, and they must fulfill continuing education requirements in order to maintain them.
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Certification Options for Childcare Workers
Certification isn't always required for employment as a childcare worker, but some states do require credentials, and many employers prefer to hire certified applicants. Some agencies that offer certification include the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) and the Council for Professional Recognition. Other certifications may be required, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid, depending on the job.
Childcare workers employed in private settings may have fewer requirements to meet than those who work in public programs. Licensing requirements vary by state, so childcare workers employed by publicly funded programs need to check with their state or local governments for specifics.
Certified Childcare Professional (CCP)
The NECPA administers the Certified Childcare Professional credential, which is designed for individuals who teach young children. The CCP especially applies to teachers who want to demonstrate knowledge of and skills in early childhood development. The designation also benefits teachers who don't hold college degrees or have earned degrees in other fields.
The eligibility requirements for teachers interested in earning the CCP designation are:
- 180 clock hours of training
- 720 hours of direct experience in a classroom within the last five years
- Letters of reference
- Writing samples
- A statement of plans
Once these eligibility requirements have been met, teachers can take the credentialing exam. The CCP designation must be renewed every two years by completing 20 hours of training in childhood education.
Child Development Associate (CDA)
The CDA, offered by the Council for Professional Recognition, requires 120 hours of formal childcare education within the past five years, as well as 480 hours of professional experience working with children. The CDA credential can be earned for four different settings:
- Family child care
- Home visitor
Valid for three years from initial certification and five years from the date of renewal, the Child Development Associate credential requires that candidates complete at least 4.5 continuing education units or a 3-credit-hour course for renewal. Renewal candidates must obtain 80 hours of work experience with young children or their families in the past year, become a member of a local or national early childhood professional organization and earn first aid certification.
National Administrator Credential (NAC)
Administered by the NECPA, the National Administrator Credential is designed for current and aspiring childcare center managers and directors. Individuals interested in earning the NAC designation must attend a 40-hour course that addresses the administrative responsibilities of childcare center managers and directors. To earn this designation, individuals must demonstrate their abilities to:
- Manage staff
- Maintain facilities
- Develop programs
The NAC designation must be renewed every two years by completing 24 clock hours.
Continuing Education Options
As previously discussed, childcare workers who have earned the CCP, CDA or NAC must periodically renew licensure by completing continuing education hours. Continuing education courses are offered by private companies as well as educational institutions. They typically cover specialized areas of childcare, such as:
- Language development in infants
- Working with children with autism
- Communicating with parents
- Child abuse prevention
- Cultural diversity
- Hiring childcare facility staff
Depending on their job, childcare workers can choose from several different certification options. To maintain licensure, they can expand their expertise in particular childcare-related topics.