Monday, August 25th, 2014

Central Campus Students Earn National Certification in Early Childhood 

This year Sarah Bassett(homeschooling and Urbandale High School) and Tamara Burrage Humburd(Hoover High School) became the first high school students in the state of Iowa to be awarded the national Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ from the Council for Professional Recognition. These students completed the two-year Early Childhood Careers program at Des Moines’ Central Campus. Through this program, they both graduated this spring with over 21college credits from DMACC, which will give them a jump start as they continue working toward early childhood degrees this fall.

The CDA Credential, an industry standard in the early childhood education field, was opened up as an option for high school students in 2011. High schools in Iowa are beginning to offer this certification as an option to students. One reason it has taken a few years for students to begin earning the credential in Iowa is the rigorous nature of the program. The CDA requires 120 hours of education, 480 work experience hours with children ages birth to 5 years, completion of a professional portfolio, and a formal assessment process including a verification visit and exam.

The structure of the Early Childhood Careers program already in place at Central Campus made it a clear choice to offer the CDA Credential. The program was already set up to offer dual-enrollment credit through DMACC for some of the state’s core CDA classes, including: Introduction to Early Childhood Education; Child Health, Safety, and Nutrition; and Early Childhood Curriculum. The program also includes internship hours, which helped the students complete the 480 work hours required for the credential. Both Sarah and Tamara worked in local child care centers during the internship time and one almost entire summer. During the second year of the program, most of their time was spent gaining experience directly in the classroom with children and also on in-depth portfolio development to prepare for the final assessment. They completed the CDA exam (taken at a local testing center) which consists of 65 multiple choice questions covering a variety of topic areas pertaining to developmentally appropriate practice in working with children ages birth to 5 years. They also completed a verification visit in which a Professional Development Specialist observed them leading classroom activities with children and scored them on the appropriateness of their interactions and teaching skills.

Due to the fact that they were both steadily working over 20 hours per week in a child care program, these students were also awarded scholarships from the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® IOWA Scholarship Program offered by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children. These scholarships helped to cover the $425 application fee that goes along with the credentialing process and awarded a bonus to the students once they received the CDA Credential.

Having attained a CDA Credential will help Sarah and Tamara become more marketable in the early childhood field as they seek employment in the future. The experience has also helped them develop crucial work skills and critical thinking skills that will help them to be successful in completing early childhood degree programs in college.  Currently, Tamara Humburd is admitted to University of Northern Iowa and she will pursue majoring in Early Childhood Education and social work minor.  Sarah Bassett  is seeking to complete her career and higher education path with the help of T.E.A.C.H  Early Childhood Iowa Scholarship program.  Younghee Steenhoek, the Early Childhood Careers instructor at Central Campus, proudly said that those two students’ excellency would stand out in their college classroom just like they were graduate school students sitting in an undergrad classroom.  Steenhoek also stated that those students boldly challenged for something that hadn’t been done by any high school students in Iowa yet and they shocked themselves by the wonderful achievement.  They are true inspiration for other high school students who are looking for alternatives besides the conventional high school programs.