The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a way for child care professionals to substantially increase your knowledge of the early care and education best practices, demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the area of early childhood care and education, and advance your career in a meaningful way.
The nationally recognized CDA credential is awarded after:
- Successful completion of a 120 hour professional training program
- Demonstration of skills needed to work with children and their families
- Successful completion of a resource file
- Submission of a credential assessment application to the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C.
- Successful completion of a formal written and oral review by a representative from the Council for Professional Recognition
Successful completion means you are able to:
- Establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment
- Advance physical and intellectual competence
- Support social and emotional development and to provide positive guidance
- Establish positive and productive relationships with families
- Ensure a well-run, purposeful program that is responsive to participant needs
- Maintain a commitment to professionalism
There are two ways to obtain the CDA:
- Our online 120 hour eCDA training program – infant-toddler or pre-school or family – with some in-person support. This program can be started at any time.
- Our in-person 120 hour class for infant-toddler teachers that is held from September to June. Sponsored by the Westchester County Office for Women, there is no cost for this class.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have at least one (1) year’s work experience in a licensed child care program or nursery school
- Be able to speak, read and write in English fluently enough to fulfill the responsibilities of a CDA candidate
Participation in trainings and other professional development efforts is an important part of providing quality care and education. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services regulations require staff to receive 30 hours of training within each two years of a program's registration period with 15 hours completed in the first six months of employment.
The Child Care Council's Professional Development team of subject-matter experts offers a vast array of trainings and technical assistance for early care and education professionals to help you expand your skills, improve the quality of care you provide to children, and meet NYS licensing requirements.
- Register online for training courses
- Printable English Training Registration Form
- Printable Spanish Training Registration Form
The Child Care Council's Professional Development team brings the training to you, at a date and time that's convenient. We can train your entire staff, for a reasonable price. Membership and multi-session discounts apply.
Choose from a variety of topics (below), or request a topic of your choice:
- OCFS Regulations and procedures, including health and safety and child abuse prevention
- Program assessment
- Social/emotional development
- Infant and toddler and preschool development, behavior issues, and appropriate curriculum
- Partnering with parents
- Team building and stress management
- Early learning standards/assessments
- Behavior management/child development
- Working with children with special needs
- Child abuse identification and prevention
- Observation, assessment and document
In partnership with Child Care Aware of America, the Child Care Council now offers online training, designed specifically for early childhood professionals, in all NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) categories. You can create your own training package, and get OCFS training hours and/or earn Continuing Education Units (CEU) for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential renewal.
Courses are categorized by their primary New York State Office of Children & Family Services (NYS OCFS) training topic. For a complete list of available courses, click here.
See instructions to purchase online training.
For assistance between the hours of 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, call 1-800-261-6248.
Child Development Associate (CDA) Training
Earn the CDA credential to advance your career and make a difference in the lives of children who will benefit from your knowledge of early development and passion for quality care. Learn more about CDA Training.
Help Paying for Training
If you need financial assistance to meet your training obligations, we recommend you explore the
Educational Incentive Program.
To put it simply, whether you are just starting out or are well-established, you have two basic responsibilities when it comes to marketing your child care business: making sure parents know about it, and convincing them to choose yours over the competition.
Here are the basic elements of a good marketing plan:
Identify Your Target Audience
Once you know the age of children you provide services for, consider what geographic area you should market to. From how far away will parents travel to use your services? Is your program or center geared toward families with specific values or beliefs, financial circumstances, or curriculum preferences? Narrow down your potential customers as best as you can.
Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
In order to convince parents that their child(ren) should be with you rather than another provider, you need to demonstrate what sets you apart and/or makes you better.
Does your child care program:
- Offer a specific educational curriculum?
- Provide supplemental activities such as language instruction or classes for parents?
- Employ staff who hold special credentials or have unusual skills or talents?
- Have accreditation, or has it achieved other awards that note exceptional quality?
Describe your business:
Whether you are preparing a brochure, writing text for a website, or describing your services verbally, you need to carefully define the features and benefits of your program.
When you talk about the features of your child care program, you are telling parents about all the basic, important details (just like you would describe features of a car). For example: days and hours you're open, class size, age of children you provide care for, whether meals or snacks are served, qualifications of staff, descriptions of the space, what the curriculum will be, etc.
When you talk about the benefits of your child care program, you are selling your unique child care services to parents. Focus on how you will improve or add value to the lives of children and their parents. For example: maybe parents will be able to relax knowing their child is in good hands, and get to work on time because you are reliable. Perhaps their child will flourish due to your exceptionally caring staff and creative learning opportunities.
It can be tempting to set your prices based on what you think parents can afford and/or what other providers are charging, but that's not the way to sustain a successful business. You need to make sure you have a firm understanding of all the costs associated with providing quality child care, and then set your fees based on those numbers. Otherwise, you will not be able to cover expenses, make a profit, or develop a financial reserve for unexpected expenses.
First, determine your expenses. Consider the following:
- Accounting services
- Cable, Internet and telephone service
- Child supplies and materials
- Employee wages, benefits and taxes
- Furniture and equipment
- Janitorial services and cleaning supplies
- Legal services
- Loan Payments
- Mortgage or rent payments, and property taxes
- Office supplies
- Professional Development and training
- Repairs and maintenance
- Travel expenses
Once you know your total monthly expenditures, you can determine how much income you need to cover those expenses. Then, considering how many children you realistically plan to care for, you can begin to think about setting rates.
For comparison, the following documents will give you a general idea of the fees currently charged by programs and providers in Westchester County:
- Average cost of child care in Westchester County
- Cost of child care in Westchester's largest towns and cities
We're here to help!
Call the Council at (914) 761-3456 x108 for additional information about the cost of care.
Like any business, operating a successful child care business requires careful planning and a lot of hard work. You should first seek to learn about the market; that is, determine the child care needs of families in the location you want to serve, and then clearly define who your customers will be, how you can best meet their needs, and how you will market your services to them. Find out who your competition is, and what you may be able to learn from them. Figure out how much it will cost you to provide quality services, and in turn what fees you will charge and how much you will pay your employees, if you have any.
Whether your plan is to open a child care center or school age program, or start providing family or group family child care, the Child Care Council is here to help you succeed.
To help you get started:
The need for care: The Council continuously monitors enrollment levels and the financial state of regulated child care businesses in the county.
Read our latest status report
Learn what Westchester parents are looking for: More than 4,000 families contact the Child Care Council each year for child care referrals. We track and compile these information requests, to help new providers plan early care and education programs, and to help existing providers stay current or make thoughtful adjustments.
Parent Requests for Child Care
Update your information in our Parent Referral Database
Cost of Care and What to Charge:
New child care professionals often struggle with what fees to charge. The Council has compiled a list of expenses for you to consider, as well as information about the average cost of care in our county.
Marketing Your Program:
After you have researched the need for care in your area and have decided to open a child care program, you need to market it. The goal is to operate with every available space full, and have the security of a waiting list. The Council can help you develop a plan.
When it comes to offering child care and early education services, you have a variety of options to choose from, based on the age of the children and the times of day and location where you will provide care, among other things. We're here to help you make an educated decision.
In New York State there are 4 types of child care settings regulated by the Office for Children and Family Services, and 4 that are not. While you are free to decide what type of care you will offer, you should be aware that the Child Care Council of Westchester recommends that parents place their child(ren) in regulated care whenever possible.
Regulated Child Care Settings:
Child Care Centers
Child Care Centers provide group care for children for more than 3 hours a day in a non-residential setting. Children are typically grouped by age. In New York State centers are licensed by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services (NYS OCFS). Minimum standards must be met for staffing, group size and basic health and safety. Care may be provided for children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age.
School Age Programs
School age care is care for children aged 5 years to 12 years in the out-of-school hours. This type of care can be found in a free standing building, a public or private school setting, as well as in recreation centers, religious institutions, child care centers, or family child care homes. Care may be provided before and/or after school and sometimes during vacations and holidays. Most programs operate on a school-year calendar.
Family Child Care
Family child care providers offer care in a residential setting. This is typically a mixed age group setting. Some providers offer part-time, weekend, overnight and evening care options; flexible schedules, and the option to allow siblings to stay together. Care may be provided for children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age.
Group Family Child Care
Group family child care is similar to family child care however more children may be enrolled when an additional caregiver is present. Group providers are licensed by New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
See the New York State regulations for child care centers, school age programs, family child care, and group family child care: Child Care Centers
Non-Regulated Child Care Settings:
Legally Exempt Providers
Also known as "informal provider" or "kith and kin" care, these providers are often friends, relatives or neighbors who watch one or two children in addition to their own. Legally exempt providers may contract with the local Department of Social Services to receive public subsidy for the children enrolled in their program. Call the Council at (914) 761-3456 x115 to learn more about legally exempt care.
Nursery School/Preschool Programs
Nursery schools provide care where children are in attendance for no more than 3 hours per day in a nonresidential setting. Nursery schools typically enroll children aged 2.9 to 5 years of age and often run on a school-year calendar. Some nursery schools voluntarily register with the New York State Education Department or become an OCFS licensed child care center.
In-Home Care Provider
An in-home care provider may live with a family or travel to the family's home each day. In-home providers are not regulated in New York State. In 1998, Kierans's Law took effect, allowing parents to access New York State criminal history information about potential in-home caregivers. Learn more about Kieran's Law.
Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs may be offered by local school districts to eligible four-year-old children. These programs are voluntary for both school districts and children and are regulated by the New York State Department of Education.
If you have questions about the different types of child care, contact the Referral Department at (914) 761-3456 x140
If you are interested in establishing a new child care center, home-based child care business, or school-aged program, we want to help you.
First, it’s important to understand that many existing child care programs and providers have openings, and are finding it difficult to enroll children. So, for you to succeed, you will need a complete understanding of business principles, including finances; New York State regulations; and marketing, in addition to the programmatic side of the business.
We urge you to review all of the related information in our website, and ask Council staff any additional questions you may have, before you attend the mandatory NYS information session or the Council’s optional one. Start here.
Mandatory Info Session For Family, Group/Family, Center, and School Age Child Care
If you intend to open a child care center, family child care program, group family child care program, or school age child care program, you must take an online or attend a mandatory start-up information session hosted by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services. For information and to watch the orientation video, go to http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/becomeaprovider.asp. The Child Day Care Center orientation is only available online.
The Council hosts the sessions for family child care programs and school age child care programs. There is no charge to attend.
Optional Business Info Session for Child Care Centers
The Child Care Council offers an additional non-mandatory information session to introduce you to the critical business-related aspects of starting a child care center, including the need for care in the area, budgeting, quality programming, developing a program philosophy, staff requirements, and regulations.
Cost for session: $85
One-on-One professional assistance is also available for a fee of $75/hour.
Any child care program that serves 3 or more non-related children for more than 3 hours a day on a regular basis must obtain a license or registration from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). To obtain either a license or registration, the applicant must show that the child care program meets requirements that the state has established to help ensure the health and safety of children in care.
The Council offers regular training sessions on child care program regulations. Learn more and see the schedule in the Professional Development Calendar.
Whether you have an established program, recently launched, or are thinking about becoming a child care provider, we’re pleased to provide you with the resources you need to be successful and provide the highest quality care.
Follow the links below to get started:
Training for Child Care Professionals
A comprehensive calendar of offerings to learn best practices and meet the NYS Office of Children & Family Services requirements.
Quality Improvement Opportunities
Accreditation, technical assistance, certification opportunities, and more.
Health Care Consultant Services and Information
Health care consultant services, medication requirements and health policies/practices info.
The Business of Child Care
What parents are looking for, the cost of care throughout the county, and marketing information.
The Different Types of Child Care in Westchester
Summaries of regulated and non-regulated care options.
Starting A Child Care Program
Information about establishing a new child care center, home-based child care business, or school-aged program.
Careers In Child Care
As part of our efforts to make high quality early care and education available to every child in Westchester, we’re pleased to help connect child care providers and job seekers.
Child care in Westchester is expensive, and we know that many families have trouble making ends meet. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you pay for child care.
First and foremost, we want to make sure you know what to expect, and that the child care options you're considering are priced reasonably.
Click here to download a document that outlines the cost of child care:
Next, when it comes time to choose a child care provider, be certain you understand what the fees are, and exactly what those fees include or cover, including hours of care, snacks or meals, supplies, transportation, meals, late pickups, and field trips. Providers may impose penalties for late payments, and some charge whether or not a child is present. Ask how often fees will be raised, and by how much.
Several financial resources and benefits are available to help families understand and manage the high cost of child care:
Public Child Care Subsidies: Many low income working families in Westchester are eligible for assistance to pay for child care. Review the charts below to see if you meet the income requirements for the Low Income Child Care Subsidy or the Title XX Child Care Subsidy. However, at this time Title XX Child Care Subsidy is not available due to the lack of funding. This information is applicable from June 1, 2017 - May 31, 2018.
|Family Size||Low Income Subsidy||
Title XX Subsidy
|2||<$32,480||$32,481 - $44,660|
|3||<$40,840||$40,841 - $52,071|
|4||<$49,200||$49,201 - $55,350|
|5||<$57,560||$57,561 - $64,755|
|6||<$65,920||$65,921 - $74,160|
|7||<$74,280||$74,281 - $83,565|
|8||<$82,640||$81,641 - $92,970|
The Child Care Council can help you determine which subsidy you may qualify for and assist you with your application. Call (914) 761-3456 ext. 140.
Child Care Scholarships: The Child Care Council of Westchester offers a limited number of scholarships.
2018-2019 Applications: 2018-2019 Early Opportunity Scholarship (EOS), July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019, Deadline for APPLICATIONS: May 16, 2018
Who will receive the Scholarship?
• The families with infants and toddlers (under the age of 3 years old) will receive priority for the scholarship.
• If funds are available, families with preschool age children (3-4 years old who are not yet in elementary school) will be considered next.
• If there are still funds available, families with school age children (5-12 years old) will be considered.
• Applicants must live in Westchester County
• Applicants must fall within the income guidelines listed below
• Applicants must be employed full time (minimum of 30 hours per week)
• Infants, Toddlers, Pre-schoolers must be enrolled full time in care of minimum of 30 hours a week
• School age children must be enrolled part time in care a minimum of 10 hours a week
• Children must be enrolled in a child care program/provider regulated by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) AND is nationally accredited OR has participated in one of the Council's quality improvement projects in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017 and received a high rating in one of their classrooms OR will agree to participate in an Environment Rating Scale program with the Council to be completed by July 2019 AND is located in Westchester County
If your child/ren is not in a program that meets the above requirements, you must move them to a program that does meet the requirements by July 1, 2018 to be eligible. Please call the Council's Referral Department at 914-761-3456 x140 for assistance in locating a program that meets these requirements.
Find your family size (parents and children living in your home), then check the chart to see if your family income qualifies you for a scholarship.
Early Opportunity Scholarship (EOS)
|2||$32,481 - $53, 592|
|3||$40,841 - $62, 485|
|4||$49,201 - $66, 420|
|5||$57,561 - $77, 706|
|6||$65,921 - $88, 992|
|7||$74,281 - $100, 278|
Tax Benefits: There are several tax benefits and programs that can put more money in your hands to pay for child care.
Dependent Care Assistance Program: DCAP is a flexible spending account that your employer may offer to help you pay for your child or dependent care expenses. You can set aside up to $5,000 of your annual income to help cover the cost of child care, elder care, or care for a disabled spouse or dependent.
New York State Public Benefits: Taking advantage of public benefit programs can improve families' overall economic situation and free up resources that can be used for child care. Visit the link below and use the pre-screening tool to see what health and human services programs you may be eligible for.
- The families with infants and toddlers (under the age of 3 years old) will receive priority for the scholarship.
- If funds are available, families with preschool age children (3- 4 years old who are not yet in elementary school) will be considered next.
- If there are still funds available, families with school age children (5 – 12 years old) will be considered.
How to Choose the Right Care For Your Family
Undoubtedly, you have discovered that there are many options for child care in your area. We recommend that you be as thorough as possible in your research, so you can be confident that you’ve chosen the right child care option.
First, call and ask some basic questions, such as:
- Is there an opening for my child?
- What is the daily program/routine?
- Does the provider follow a curriculum?
- What are the qualifications (education and experience) of the caregivers?
- Is there much staff turnover?
- How many children does the provider care for/what is the class size?
- What are the ages of the children in the group?
- What are the fees, and what do they include?
- What are the hours? What happens on holidays and vacation days?
- Is the provider accredited by a national organization?
Hopefully, the answers to those questions will help you narrow down your options. Next, you should visit the providers you are most interested in, to get a feeling for each in person.
Before you visit providers, review these informative documents:
Everything you need to know before hiring a nanny:
When it’s time to visit providers, we recommend you:
- Visit at least 3 potential programs/providers
- Bring this checklist of important questions (English) with you or this checklist of important questions (Spanish)
- Make sure there are children present when you visit, so you can see how staff interacts with them
- Allow 30-45 minutes per visit
Before you commit to a program or sign a contract, you should:
- Review the provider’s Parent Handbook, if one is available
- Make sure you understand the pricing, and whether you qualify for financial assistance to help pay for care. Learn more about Paying For Care.