Professional Development

Professional Development Training

Southeast Children’s Fund's Professional Development Institute (PDI) offers Child Development Associate (CDA) course for early care and education practitioners and individuals interested in the field so that they are able to apply to the Council for Professional Recognition.


SCF’s PDI is certified by the DC Education Licensure Commission and the DC Early Care and Education Administration. PDI is the only non-degree training provider able to award Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in the District.


In addition, we offer current and prospective owners of Child Development Homes and Centers technical assistance in all aspects of the early child care and education business including licensing to professional development. Owners of Child Development Homes or Centers who are interested in receiving Technical Assistance should contact the Director of Education and Training at (202) 561-5736.  

History of the Organization

History of the Organization


Southeast Children’s Fund/Professional Development Institute (SCF/PDI) was established in 1994 by its parent company Southeast Children’s Fund with a grant from the Office of Early Childhood Education (then, Office of Early Childhood Development). Since its inception, the Southeast Children’s Fund Professional Development Institute has trained over 1,000 childcare practitioners for the CDA Credential and has demonstrated a high degree of success in the number of graduates who achieved certification. Owing to the support services available, the number of students dropping out is extremely low. According to findings from a study conducted by UDC/CARUP for the Early Care and Education Administration, 165 first-time and renewal CDAs were awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition between January 2004 and May 2006 to candidates who attended SCF’s training program. During that same period, only 13 of the 473 students dropped out.


In 2007 SCF was once again awarded a grant from OECE to be one of its CDA training partners. SCF/PDI also became a certified training provider for the Department of Employment Services in 2008. In 2008, SCF/PDI added a new course: The Child Development Associate Professional Preparation Program. This six-month intensive training course is specifically designed for eligible individuals who are interested in entering the childcare field but have little or no experience working in childcare.

Board of Directors

Frances J. Rollins, Chief Operations Officer and President of Board of Directors

Saliha Abd Al-Malik, Chairman 

Tanetta Merritt, 

Olivia Henderson, Secretary

Kweku Toure, Legal Advisor

Administrative/ Instructional Staff

Frances J. Rollins, Chief Operating Officer Michelle Brown, Program Manager

Lorraine Crews, Program Assistant

Robinette Breedlove-Lewis, Ed. D., Instructor/Advisor LaShawn Tracy, MSA, Instructor/Advisor

Michelle Marbury, Instructor/Advisor Vanessa Taja-on, Instructor/Advisor

Denise Rogers, Advisor

Angela Rollins, Advisor

Mission/ Philosophy


The Institute’s mission is to improve the quality of childcare in the District by offering affordable training programs that advance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the child care workforce


SCF/PDI is a certified non-degree postsecondary institution and is the only non-college Child Development Associate training provider in the District that can award Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to its students. This means that students’ training hours can be applied toward a college degree in early childhood education at the discretion of the institutions in which they enroll and can also satisfy any in-service training requirements. SCF is approved to operate by the Higher Education Licensure Commission.

SCF/PDI Training Facility

SCF/PDI provides each person devoted to the delivery of child care the opportunity for success by equipping them with the skills required to gain employment; improving their knowledge and understanding of child development and early care and education; providing specialized training; and increasing job opportunities and experiences as child care professionals. SCF/PDI training courses are available to all skill levels – from entry to master’s level – and can be obtained on campus at our Southeast Children’s Fund location or arranged at job sites across the Metropolitan Washington, DC area.

SCF/PDI Relationships that support the CDA Training Program

SCF has a professional relationship with The Council of Professional Recognition (2460 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009) that administers the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The instructors at SCF-PDI serve as “Professional Development Specialist for the Council and conduct on-site visits to observe candidates in the classroom and review the CDA Resource Portfolio. The Director of Training also served on the Council’s Advisory Board and help to create the new CDA exam which is administered by PEARSON Vue.

SCF/PDI Lending Library 

SCF/PDI’s training facility is accessible to persons with disabilities and to public transportation, with plenty of off-street and on-street parking. Students work at comfortably arranged conference tables, grouped to reflect the various settings for which a CDA Credential can be obtained. Classroom instruction is further enhanced by a VCR and video equipment. A computer lab and early childhood classrooms which are in close proximity to the Institute provide convenient and valuable support to the students.

SCF/PDI's Instructional Staff

SCF/PDI’s instructional staff is also trained and certified Field Advisors who work closely with each student to make sure they pass the course and succeed in passing the Child Development Associate credentialing exam. The student-to-instructor ratio is never higher than 30 to 1, and students have access to PDI staff during business hours every day, thereby ensuring that all students receive adequate support leading to their successful completion

Mission: The mission of the Lending Library is to provide all individuals enrolled in the program with a selection of books and other resources and materials to aid the individual in the pursuit of curricular excellence as well as the furtherance of personal educational goals. Because of the limitations of budget and space, the lending library has a collection of materials and resources to meet the student’s interests and needs. The lending library consists of curriculum and assessment materials, teacher activity books, and a variety of early childhood resources including the following topics:

  • Child Growth & Development

  • Inclusion

  • Health & Safety

  • Social-Emotional Development

  • Positive Guidance

  • Advocacy

  • Program Management

  • Professionalism

  • Leadership


Censorship and Intellectual freedom

Although materials are carefully selected, differences of opinion may arise regarding suitable materials. SCF- PDI will consider opinions regarding materials in its collection but will never remove or censor any holding strictly based upon an individual’s or group’s unsupported demand to do so.

Equipment & Software:

  • Copiers

  • Printers

  • Scanners

  • Microsoft Office

  • Google

Program Offerings


Child Development Associate Direct Assessment:

  • 120 Instructional Hours

  • 480 Practicum Experience

Credentialing Endorsements:

  • Infant & Toddler

  • Preschool

  • Family

Child Development Renewal Course:

  • 45.0 Instructional Hours

  • 80 Practicum Experience

Credentialing Renewal Endorsements:

  • Infant & Toddler

  • Preschool

  • Family

Credential Conferred


CDA Credential administered by the Council of Professional Recognition.







CDA Credential administered by the Council of Professional Recognition.

CDA Course Offerings 


4224 6th Street SE Washington, DC 20032


Office Hours

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

4224 6th Street SE Washington, DC 20032


Office Hours

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

(Schedule is subject to change based on the number of enrolled students.)

The CDA Direct Assessment program is offered four-six times a year, (depending on funding) in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.

CDA Direct Assessment/Renewal (Home Language English)

Classes meet two times a week for three (3.0 hours) -- on either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesday & Thursday from 6:00

p.m. to 9:00 p.m. & 2 Saturday per month.

CDA Direct Assessment/Renewal (Home Language English)

Classes meet 1X per week for three (6.0 hours) -- on either Friday(s) 9:00 am – 3:00 pm and 1 Saturday per month.

Dates are subject to change based on the number of registrants.

Cohort I:     CDA Direct Assessment

Cohort II:    CDA Direct Assessment

Cohort III: CDA Direct Assessment (SPANISH)

Cohort IV: CDA Direct Assessment

Cohort V:    CDA Direct Assessment

Cohort VI: CDA Direct Assessment

October 15, 2019 – March 21, 2020

Nov 5, 2019 – April 18, 2020

Dec. 3, 2019 – May 16, 2020

April 7, 2020 – September 12, 2020

May 5, 2020- September 26, 2020


Course Description and Content

The Child Development Associate Direct Assessment Training program is a course for individuals currently employed in child care or has earned 480 clock hours of child care in the previous three years, that prepares child care practitioners for an assessment (Verification Visit) the Council for Professional Recognition conducts to determine whether the candidate’s performance meets the standards for a CDA credential. The course consists of a series of two-hour seminars delivered over a six-month period, providing the 120 clock hours of early childhood education childcare practitioners must have to be eligible for a first-time CDA assessment. Childcare practitioners can train for a credential in four different child care settings:

  1. Center-based infant/toddler,

  2. Center-based preschool

  3. Family home childcare, and

  4. Bilingual

This six-month intensive training program is for District residents who are interested in a career in early childhood education but who have little or no recent childcare experience. The course can be offered during the day, as well as in the evening. Class schedules are updated annually.


Enrollees (hereinafter referred to as candidates) are assigned to a field advisor who will provide training and mentoring support. Candidates will attend three-hour CDA classes twice a week, which includes fieldwork and other assignments to begin compiling their Professional Resource File. After an overview of the early childhood field and child development principles, they will be placed in a licensed childcare facility for on-the-job training (practicum). The students must complete 120 classroom hours and 480 practicum hours to total 600 clock hours of childcare experience needed to apply for the National CDA Credential.

  • Candidates will select a Professional Development Specialist from the Council of Recognition who will complete the on-site classroom observation, review the CDA Portfolio, and the reflective dialogue.

  • Candidates must schedule their CDA written test with Pearson Vue Testing Center. (Cost of the test is included in the $425.00 Assessment Fee).


In addition, Candidates participate in the following workshop sessions to prepare them for employment in the field of early childhood education:

  • Research and Theory of Early Childhood Development

  • Inclusive Practices for Children with Special Needs

  • District of Columbia Early Learning Standards

  • First Aid and CPR (Adult, Infant, and Child)

  • District of Columbia New Child Care Regulations

  • Mandatory Reporting – Child Abuse & Neglect Training

  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Working with 2nd Language Learners

  • Assessment & Observation of Young Children

Candidates continue their practicum or job placement and work with their instructor and/or field advisors to finalize preparations for CDA Assessment. This period focuses on helping students prepare for the CDA Assessment, and includes assistance in completing the application process, and approval and submission of all documentation by candidates’ field advisors to the Council as required

Special Workshops and Seminars

Periodically, the SCF/Professional Development Institute conducts workshops for child development professionals in the following areas:

  • School-Age Development Curriculum

  • Infant/Toddler Growth and Development Curriculum

  • Early Childhood Education and Development Curriculum

  • Job-site Training/Career Enhancement Workshops

  • Topics related to Child Care licensing and accreditation

  • Advocacy Issues related to the Child Care Industry

Technical Assistance

Southeast Children’s Fund Professional Development Institute also provides technical assistance to Child Development Home and Center owners and prospective owners. Clients can receive guidance in all aspects of the child development business, from licensing laws to the curriculum to learning environment issues to staff development. Seminars, workshops, and one-to-one consultations are the venues used to deliver technical assistance. Childcare facilities and organizations can also arrange for on-the-job CDA training for their staff. Contact Frances J. Rollins at (202) 561-0595, or email her at for more information.

Eligibility Requirements


Child Development Associates Direct Assessment Training Program (CDA Direct Assessment)

In order to qualify for this course, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age

  • Currently employed in a licensed childcare facility with 350- 480 hours experience or have 480 hours of childcare experience in the five years prior to enrollment

  • Be a District resident or working in a District childcare facility

  • Have a high school diploma or a GED

  • Able to pass a criminal background check, Child Protective Service clearance, and health check


Child Development Associate Professional Preparation Program

In order to qualify for this course, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age

  • Have less than 350 hours working in a childcare facility

  • Be a District of Columbia resident

  • Have a high school diploma or GED

  • Able to pass a criminal background check, Child Protective Service clearance, and health check


Application and Enrollment Procedures

To apply for either the CDA Direct Assessment or CDA Child Development Professional Preparation Program courses, the following steps must be completed:


  • Call and find out if you have the basic qualifications. When you call the office, a staff member will explain the requirements both for enrolling in the training and for qualifying for financial aid to cover tuition and fees. You will be instructed on the types of verification documents you will need. If you fit eligibility requirements for a training scholarship, you will be directed to complete the SCF/PDI scholarship application.


Staff will also discuss tuition/fee payment plans and determine whether the applicant qualifies for any of the training subsidies and grants available. Please note that Pell Grants are unavailable at this time.


Applicants who do not receive assistance from any of the above sources must make arrangements to pay for the training out-of-pocket; a payment plan will be negotiated and the tuition down payment and $95 book fee must be paid no later than the Orientation session.


Your name will then be placed on a waiting list, to be called before the forming of the next training session.


Obtain and complete an Enrollment Application. This form can be found in the back of the catalog. It can also be obtained by calling Southeast Children’s Fund at 202-561-5736 or stopping by the office at 4224 6th Street, SE, Washington, DC.

When filling out the Enrollment Form, be sure to indicate your childcare experience, primary language, and education and whether you have a current criminal background and Child Protective Service clearance certificates and/or health certificate.


Submit your application along with a check or money order for $25 (non-refundable application processing fee) to Southeast Children’s Fund, Inc.’s corporate office at 4224 6th Street, SE, Washington, DC 20032 – either by hand or by mail.


Enrollment and Orientation. Applicants should bring to the enrollment/orientation the following: Completed enrollment application, proof of age, residence, education, childcare experience, and criminal background clearance, Child Protective Service clearance, health clearance, and First Aid/CPR certificates if they have any of these. SCF staff will explain the program expectations in detail, student support services available to students, what is expected of students, and distribute handbook.


Applicants will also complete the Child Protective Services (CPS) clearance form and the SCF staff will submit to CFSA if not currently working in an early childhood program


At the orientation sessions, applicants should bring all requested documentation that has not been collected already, including a receipt for the Police Clearance. Applicants should also bring the required tuition down payment (if any required) and book fee. (Applicants will have until the end of the orientation period to submit the tuition down payment.)


In addition, applicants:

  • Complete and sign an Enrollment Agreement;

  • Complete the Participant Information Form (an OSSE required document);

  • Sign up for practicum placement, if not currently working in a licensed facility;

  • First Aid/CPR, will be offered during the training; (Cost for Adult/Pediatric 1st Aid & CPR Training is

$85.00 and isn’t included in the cost of tuition).

  • Sign student pledge to complete all required work needed to obtain a credential, to notify SCF upon being awarded the CDA Credential, and to work in the District as a childcare practitioner.


Acceptance Notification

Upon being accepted into a training program the prospective student receives an acceptance letter via email that includes the start/end dates, instructor and adviser name & contact information. SCF/PDI doesn’t have a provisional acceptance program as each prospective student must meet the requirements prior to enrollment.


Transfer of Credit

Since the CDA Program is a specialized course comprising a series of units sequenced in a specific way and is only of short duration, no transfer of credit from another institution is possible. SCF doesn’t grant credit for life or work experience.


SCF/PDI has agreements with the University of the District of Columbia, through the Early Childhood Leadership Institute, to award 6 credit hours for the completed course to be applied toward a degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development. However, the transfers of clock hours earned at SCF/PDI are transferrable to another institution at the sole discretion of the accepting institution

Satisfactory Academic Progress

SCF/PDI uses a pass/fail system to determine satisfactory academic progress, where 70% or better score on a test means a P or Pass. Students are tested at the end of each unit of study. Students must receive a score of 70% or better to pass the course along with completing the CDA Portfolio.


Student Progress Report

The Student Progress Report system was designed to assist in communicating academic performance to students. The system includes a collection stage and a communication stage with opportunities for additional data mining that will lend support to customization, tutoring, and/or intervention within the learning environment.



The primary function of the system is to alert students of the danger of unsatisfactory academic performance and to point out resources that can help these students succeed academically. Students receive notification monthly. The CDA Portfolio Progress Report provides notification to students regarding their current progress, missed assignments, and low unit assessment scores. Progress Reports are delivered early enough to allow the solution of student problems such as absenteeism, missed assignments, low test scores, and incomplete CDA Portfolios. The procedure is initiated during the fourth week of the CDA program using the CDA Portfolio Checklist. Students are encouraged to meet with their course instructor/advisor



Role: Provide feedback to students on their performance as early in the semester as possible. Steps:

  1. Instructors with students from the designated population receive a progress notification in the fourth week of the semester.

  2. The report indicates which students are not performing in a satisfactory manner.

  3. A reminder e-mail is sent close to the end of the participation period reminding instructors that they need to complete the report.



Role: Review Progress Report and take any necessary actions based on the information it provides. Steps:

  1. Students receive a “CDA Progress Report" from their instructors.

  2. Students should review the information, access resources referenced in the report, and meet with his or her adviser as necessary.



Role: Review reports on students and helps them seek the resources they need to be successful. Steps:

  1. Advisers receive an e-mail when an instructor indicates that one of his or her advisees is not performing


   2. Advisers review the reports and meets with student.

© 2020 by Southeast Children's Fund.