While no singular standard exists for caregiver training and educational background, a child development associate certificate is a base credential for those who work with younger children. During the educator's road to earning the credential, she must meet six competency goals that demonstrate a high level of performance as a caregiver.
Parents Should Care
When you choose an early childhood program for your child, picking one that has a well-trained and qualified staff is critical. Educators who have specific training in the early childhood area can directly help young children when it comes to learning and development, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC notes -- in its "Where We Stand on Professional Preparation Standards" statement -- that early childhood educators should have the know-how to promote development, build family and community partnerships, create a meaningful curriculum and act professionally at all times. Knowing that your child's teacher or caregiver has a CDA means that this worker meets standards for competency in functional areas that are necessary for working with young children, aiding in their development, and providing a healthy and caring environment.
Keeping the Kids Safe
The first goal of the CDA competency standards is, "To establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment." Although keeping up with an adequate, or above adequate, safety and health standard is a must for licensed day cares and preschools, the CDA goal speaks more toward the caregiver's ability to meet these requirements. Before a caregiver gets her CDA credential, she must demonstrate that she has knowledge of and can effectively maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.
Developing the Littlest of Learners
The CDA competency standard's goals focus heavily on child learning and development. These goals include advancing development through all of the domains -- cognitive, social, emotional and physical -- and fostering creativity and positive communication skills. A CDA holder should have the early childhood knowledge to create effective lessons and activity plans that foster the child's development and understating of subjects such as math, science or literacy.
Day care workers, preschool teachers and other caregivers don't only work with children. Think about how many times you have to interact with teachers during parent-teacher conferences, open houses, classroom parties or simply at drop-off and pick-up times. The CDA competency goals recognize that families and communities are part of the early childhood environment and emphasize the necessity for practitioners to always act in a positive manner. These goals include establishing relationships with parents and families, acting in a responsive manner toward the needs of the families and having a firm commitment to acting in a professional manner at all times.