EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Licensure for Paraeducators
One of the most significant expansions to Maryland’s education system is the expansion of early childhood education programs. This expansion increases funding for more providers, both public and private, to offer full-day preschool programs and also enhances the preparation for pre-k educators.
Among the changes are higher standards for public and private programs, which includes a public rating by the Maryland EXCELS program and a system to determine program eligibility based on a student’s age and household income.
Built into the Blueprint are rigorous new standards required for both public and private programs and educators. Beginning in the 2025-2026 school year, all pre-k teachers must be state certified in early childhood education or hold a bachelor’s degree and be pursuing residency through the Maryland Approved Alternative Preparation Program.
Beginning in the 2025–2026 school year, paraeducators must hold a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate or an associate degree. A high school degree is the current qualification for a pre-k aide.
How much does a CDA certificate cost?
The Maryland State Department of Education is partnering with the Council for Professional Recognition to support paraeducators with scholarships to get their CDA. See the resources below to learn more about scholarships and funding your CDA.
Course costs range from $1,000 to $1,300, plus registration fees and books, plus up to $500 to take the assessment.
- $425 initial online application fee
- $125 renewal online application fee
- $33 for Child Development Associate® National Credentialing Program and CDA® Competency Standards for preschool, infant-toddler, or family child care. Shipping is included in the cost of the required standards book.
The Path to Your CDA
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
- A CDA professional portfolio with all required documents.
- 480 hours of professional work experience in a center-based or same type of program setting with children three to five years old.
- 120 hours of formal early childhood education for the setting where you work (infant/toddler, pre-school, or family childcare) with a minimum of 10 hours in each of the eight CDA subject areas. The subject areas include:
- Planning a safe, healthy learning environment
- Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
- Supporting children’s social and emotional development
- Building productive relationships with families
- Managing an effective program
- Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
- Observing and recording children’s behavior
- Understanding principles of child development and learning
- A meeting with a CDA professional development specialist to review your portfolio and observe your work. The CDA PD specialist will:
- Conduct a verification visit
- Review the portfolio
- Conduct an observation
- Submit a score recommendation to the Council for Professional Recognition
- Once the eligibility has been met, the CDA verification visit has been conducted, and the CDA exam has been completed, the results will be reviewed to render a credentialing decision.