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CDA Trainer and Advisor Debra Pierce answers some questions from our last chat session. She is a registered CDA Council Representative and associate professor at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Since 1995, Ms. Pierce has hosted a website devoted to CDA Candidates needing assistance,

Her book is due out in May.

Q: May I use my director as my advisor who has a M.Ed?

A: You may not use your Director as your Advisor, as this would be a conflict of interest. You can find a director from another center to do it, or a teacher from another center who has at least a CDA herself. All of the Advisor qualifications are listed in the back of your booklet from the Council. You can also call the Council for a listing of registered Advisors in your area. You should understand, however, that if you call someone who is not a friend or acquaintance, it can cost up to $100. for her services. It might be worthwhile, then, to have someone you know as your Advisor, and just take them out for lunch!

Q: I am debating whether it will benefit me to get a CDA at this point .I am in a small town

A: It really depends on the position you are seeking and what your future goals are. A CDA is an entry-level credential. It can allow you to be a lead teacher in most states. If you have aspirations for being a director, you would probably want a degree. (It looks better to have more training than your employees!) Also, you can get a degree to work in the public school system, which usually pays better. You can work on an Associate, and pick up your CDA along the way, since the same courses apply to both. It looks very good to have both a degree AND a CDA on a resume.

Q: Now that I do family childcare would I have to start over?

A: You would not necessarily have to “start over,” since the state doesn’t really care what age/setting endorsement you have, just so you have a CDA. You can, if you want, get a second setting CDA for family child care. That process is much simpler and only has a couple of hoops to jump through… nothing like the original process you’ve already done!

Q: How long does one have to complete the CDA? Is it a year? or does it vary?

A: Yes, the classwork is good for 5 years. The Observation Instrument, Parent Questionnaires, and other paperwork is only good for 6 months.

Q: Can you tell me about the interview ?

A: The Oral Interview consists of 10 scenarios one would typically find in a child care setting. The ones presented to you would be specific to your own setting/age group endorsement. You will have a picture of the scene, as well as a written description of it, which the Council Rep will read with you. You will then comment on what you see happening in the scenario. You should first look for any red flags, indicating something that is not appropriate happening in the scene. Talk about why it is not right and what you would do differently. Then, move on to what you see going on that IS appropriate. The Rep will take notes about what you say. She has a field book that lists responses she should be hearing from you. If you do not touch on these required points, she can prompt you two times, to see if you will respond to these things. If you do not, even with the prompts, she will deduct points.

Q: What about online assessment from the council. Thought you could interview online or is it upfront and personal?

A: The Online Assessment is still the same Verification Visit as before. The only think that is now “online” is the registration process and the Early Childhood Studies Review and the Oral Interview scenarios. You will still need to meet with a Rep for the Visit, so she can look over your materials and complete paperwork. There are still advantages to having the tests and interview face-to-face, in my opinion. If there is a question you don’t understand, the Rep is there to assist you. If you are not sure about an Oral Interview scenario, the Rep can prompt you, which may help you answer correctly. If you take these tests online, you are on your own, with no help. You need to bring along a valid driver’s license (or state ID) and your original First Aid Certificate.The Online option will not launch until Fall. The Council has not ironed out all the details for it, as yet.