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The pictured group are childcare providers who successfully met the national requirements to become Child Development Associates through DSU's Early Childhood Innovation Center. The group was honored at a June 14 ceremony in DSU's Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.
In this photo: The pictured group are childcare providers who successfully met the national requirements to become Child Development Associates through DSU’s Early Childhood Innovation Center. The group was honored at a June 14 ceremony in DSU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.
On Campus

Early Childhood Innovation Center honors CDAs

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

DSU’s Early Childhood Innovation Center (ECIC) culminated its successful inaugural year by honoring its first cohort of childcare scholars to earn their certification as Child Development Associates (CDA).

The group of 223 childcare scholars are the first individuals to achieve CDA certification through the joint State of Delaware and Delaware State University initiative to establish the ECIC – the mission of which is to increase childcare capabilities in the First State and thereby give young children the best educational start possible.

Seventy-six of the successful CDAs gathered on June 14 for an ECIC “Rising Up Together” Ceremony in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center on the DSU campus. During the event, the childcare scholars were presented with their CDA certificates.

“This means that 223 individuals are nationally certified and recognized as child development experts or associates,” said Dr. Kim Krzanowski, Executive Director of the ECIC. “They now have the skills, the knowledge, and the qualities to ensure that they provide top-notch early childhood education to their local communities.”

While possessing a CDA expands the childcare providers’ possibilities for more job opportunities and better wages, the children under their care are the biggest beneficiaries.

“The children under these Child Development Associates will be much better prepared to transition to kindergarten, to graduate high school, and to attend college,” Dr. Krzanowski said.

Nya Farlow, a preschool educator at Beach Babies Childcare in Lewes, Del., was selected to give her reflections about her decision to pursue a CDA.ECIC's Dionne Patterson presents Luz Quiroga (r) with the Coach of the Year Award.

“I decided to do this because I want every family that I provide childcare to know that their child is in great capable hands and that their child is learning and thriving while in my care,” Ms. Farlow said. “I decided to do this because I know that when educators thrive, our children thrive.”

Ms. Farlow was honored by being named the first-ever ECIC Ambassador during the ceremony. She will help promote the ECIC program to other childcare providers.

The ECIC also honored Luz Quiroga as its inaugural Coach of the Year. As an official ECIC coach, Ms. Quiroga worked with 24 aspirants. She works as a bilingual early childhood specialist at the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington and as a Professional Development Specialist with the Council of Professional Recognition, fulfilling the needs of Spanish-speaking childcare providers.

The CDAs are granted by the Council of Professional Recognition (CPR), a worldwide leader in credentialing early childhood educators. The CDA ensures that credentialed childcare providers are well-prepared to foster young children’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth.

Andrew Davis, Chief Operating Officer for the CPR, attended the ceremony and gave high praise for the work of the ECIC. “It is not just the state funding that goes toward this work, but it is the coordination of all the support systems that ensure success,” he said. “The CNR has done focus groups and surveys to determine what drives success, and the ECIC built exactly that without knowing any of that information.”

Mr. Davis said that the ECIC’s model for CDA attainment is something other states can learn from. “Kudos to the (Gov. John Carney) administration for putting this in place, and kudos to the ECIC for conceptualizing something like this that is so beneficial to the childcare field.”Andrew Davis present Nya Farlow with her CDA certificate. She was also named the first-ever ECIC Ambassador.

The role of DSU’s ECIC is to support childcare providers in meeting the CDA’s requirements to develop and submit a portfolio, pass the national exam, and complete the observation element. The ECIC paired each CDA aspirant with a childcare/mentor coach to help them achieve those requirements; it also distributed more than $100,000 in support stipends during its first year.

The newly credentialed CDAs ranged in age from 17 to 70. More than 75% of the inaugural group of childcare providers pursuing the CDA were from New Castle County, while 11% and 12% were from Kent and Sussex counties, respectively.

The county demographic is expected to change in the future, as an Early Childhood Innovation Center Building is currently being constructed on DSU’s main campus in Dover with projected completion by February 2025. This will enable the ECIC to increase its focus on attracting childcare providers in Delaware’s lower two counties to the CDA program.