The Child Development program provides three options for students wishing to pursue a career working with young children from birth to age 8. Students can complete courses for an associate degree to prepare for transfer to a four-year college or university and entry-level career opportunities. Students who do not intend to transfer or who may be taking courses part-time, may opt to pursue courses for either a 10-credit Academic Certificate in the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential Preparation program (covers all the coursework for the National CDA Credential) or the 21-credit Academic Certificate in Child Development.
The first Academic Certificate program prepares students to apply for a Child Development Associate Credential, a non-degree national credential. The second Academic Certificate is a state-approved certificate in Child Development and is recognized by both IdahoSTARS Professional Development System and Head Start as a credential when applying for entry-level employment in the field of Child Development. Nine of the 10 credits from the first Academic Certificate apply directly to the 21 credits needed for the second Academic Certificate in Child Development. All 21 of the credits of this Academic Certificate apply to the associate degree in Child Development.
The Child Development associate degree transfer program is designed to meet requirements for students transferring to four-year institutions in Child Development or Early Childhood Education. Students who earn an associate degree in Child Development are qualified to seek career opportunities in early care and education, preschool, Head Start, and teaching in private education programs serving all children and families from birth to age 8. Further study leading to a baccalaureate degree, especially those programs offering the Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education component, affords career options in elementary education (K-3), special education, and other child-related fields. An associate degree meets the general core requirements at all Idaho public universities. Course selection should be tailored to match requirements as defined by transfer institutions. To ensure appropriate courses are taken, those students intending to pursue the Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education at Idaho transfer institutions should meet with an NIC Child Development advisor upon acceptance in the college.
Child Development Associate Credential Program
The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential program is intended for individuals preparing to work in early care and education settings who wish to gain further knowledge and expertise in the field. The CDA Credential is the minimum educational standard required for employment in Head Start/Early Head Start and accredited early childhood programs. Ten credits of coursework provides the theoretical and practical framework for establishing appropriate program practices for young children and families.
NIC’s Child Development Associate CDA Certificate of Completion verifies that the student has completed the specified 120 hours of required coursework for the CDA Credential. After completing these courses students who are at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and with at least 480 documented hours of direct work with young children in an early childhood program, will be ready to apply for their Child Development Associate Credential from the Council for Professional Recognition.
Credits earned for college coursework completed while pursuing a Child Development Associate Academic Certificate articulate directly into the NIC Child Development Academic Certificate, and the Associate of Science Degree.
The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE) and is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE. The CDA Credential is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children.
The Council for Professional Recognition works to ensure that the nationally-transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the early childhood profession as a vital part of professional development. The CDA credential is a recognized professional level of the Idaho Early Childhood Pathway of Professional Development.