Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate 2019 Graduation

On May 29, 2019, 47 students received their Child Development Associate Certificate from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. A group of students were continuing their professional development to further their career in early childhood education. Participants included child care owners, assistant teachers, and Head Start Teachers. Additionally, some students were making a change in their career and were new to the field of early childhood, including a military veteran. They all share a common desire to be great teachers and enjoy their work with children and families.

The majority of the students (33), were sponsored by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). The group were all parents with children in NYC ACS Head Start programs. They participated in their programs as volunteers, committee members, and delegate representatives. They worked to earn their CDA in order to continue to give back to the community programs that have provided so much to them and their families. They can now work as teacher assistants and lead teachers in the classrooms in which they once volunteered.

You can watch a short video here of CDA graduates discussing their experiences in the program, and another video here from Gary Dunbar, Assistant Director of the Committee for Early Childhood Development Head Start, discusses the importance of the Institute and ACS initiative to help parents of young children obtain the CDA.

The Institute applauds the hard work of the 47 CDA graduates and the Institute’s Director of Career Services and Higher Education, Claudine Campanelli. Claudine oversees the CDA program and the CPAC program in conjunction with the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

On a Special Note

One student in this year’s class was a special representation of the dedication that the graduates feel toward their education. Shontae Ferguson-Pryce was expecting a new baby and actually went into labor as the ceremony began! She was determined to walk across the stage to receive her CDA, so the order of the ceremony was rearranged and she walked the stage, aided by fellow graduates. After she received her certificate, EMT workers rushed her out of the building. Congratulations to Shontae on the birth of her baby boy!


Below are two testimonials discussing the CDA:

Gary Dunbar, Assistant Director of the Committee for Early Childhood Development Head Start, discusses the importance of the Institute and ACS initiative to help parents of young children obtain the CDA.

Students that completed the CDA through the Institute and ACS initiative to help parents of young children obtain the CDA share their experience in the program.

NYC Comptroller Releases New Plan to Improve Infant and Toddler Child Care

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has released a new plan to improve services for children from birth to age three in NYC. The plan, NYC Under 3, examines the current state of child care in the city and puts forth a series of policy recommendations to address current issues related to affordability, availability, and quality of child care/early childhood education for children age three and under.

QUALITYstarsNY is mentioned in the plan as part of the discussion around assessing the quality of child care in New York City. As the report notes, QUALITYstarsNY served more than 200 center-based and family child care programs across New York City boroughs as of September 2018.  

If adopted, the six year NYC Under 3 plan would be the largest city-level expansion of child care for children birth to age three in the United States—making child care more affordable for NYC’s low- and moderate-income families with young children. 

NYC Under 3 Policy Recommendations

The Comptroller’s plan includes several proposed policies to help improve birth to three early learning opportunities in NYC, including:

  • Lower families’ financial contribution toward child care and expand child care assistance to families that make up to 400 percent of the poverty level.
  • Increase accessibility by offering start-up and expansion grants for child care programs to increase infant and toddler enrollment, and create a $500 million fund for construction and renovation of child care facilities.
  • Increase compensation for child care providers serving infants and toddlers and create parity between center-based educators and those in public schools.
  • Expand access to professional development opportunities and technical assistance for providers.

QUALITYstarsNY applauds NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer for making the city’s infants and toddlers, and their families, a priority. We envision the role of QUALITYstarsNY to be integral to the efforts outlined in the report. The efforts will only be successful if we, as a city, can be assured that our youngest children experience the highest quality. QUALITYstarsNY’s focus is on accountability AND excellence, both equally essential for success. We hope the city will adopt these measures to increase affordability, access, and quality of 0-3 child care in all settings. 

Read the full NYC Under 3 plan.

Early Childhood Hiring Fair

The CUNY School of Professional Studies is hosting an Early Childhood Hiring Fair this June. The goal of the fair is to provide a space for CUNY students, alumni and early childhood professionals to meet with recruiters from top early childhood programs across the five boroughs. Event highlights include giveaways, light refreshments, and career advisors who will be available to provide one-on-one career counseling. Children ages 3-10 are welcome to attend the fair that will feature a craft table!

Early childhood leaders with teacher and assistant teacher vacancies at their programs can register for a recruitment table and interview space for screening candidates at no cost.

Those interested in participating can RSVP to Maxine Barton at

New Research Explores Instructional Leadership in NYC’s Pre-K for All

The Institute’s New York City Early Childhood Research Network brings research scientists and public agency leaders together to learn from each other, conduct research, and consider findings and their implications for public policy. A new Research Network study conducted by researchers from  Bank Street Center on Culture, Race & Equity and National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University explores how early childhood instructional leaders work to improve teaching through feedback and guidance during classroom visits and other types of instructional support. The instructional leaders in the study worked in both schools and community-based settings that are part of New York City’s expanding network of preschool programs. The study found that while New York City pre-k teachers welcomed the support provided by leaders, there are several areas where the city can support leaders to have a greater impact on quality. Specific areas for improvement include: giving leaders more training on best practices in coaching to help teachers promote early learning in key areas such as language, social-emotional growth, and culturally-sustaining practices; establishing standards for the frequency of instructional leaders’ classroom visits; and helping leaders preserve time for visiting classrooms. The study provides recommendations to improve leaders’ coaching of teachers to increase classroom quality.

Access the full report at and

New Report on New York State Early Learning Workforce Highlights Issues with Compensation and Staff Wellbeing

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute is committed to building a system that supports the early childhood workforce. Capturing teacher voices, understanding their professional and career development needs, and sharing key information to help policy makers ensures that we nurture a highly effective workforce.  QUALITYstarsNY, the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System for early learning programs, also places considerable emphasis on the early childhood workforce, investing extensive resources to support program leadership and teaching staff. 

Recently, the Institute partnered with researchers at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California, Berkeley to study teachers’ work environments in QUALITYstarsNY programs. We were interested in comparing CSCCE’s Supportive Environmental Quality Underlying Adult Learning (SEQUAL) tool with QUALITYstarsNY Standards and ratings to determine whether center-based programs with high QUALITYstarsNY ratings would also score highly on SEQUAL. 

This was important to us because SEQUAL measures five critical areas of the program environment that are essential for teachers to educate and nurture our young children: teaching supports, the learning community, job-crafting, adult well-being, and program leadership. In addition to providing rich data about QUALITYstarsNY and the way it successfully supports early childhood programs in New York State, we received  other data about the workforce that contribute to a greater debate about the changes that need to be made to the system – locally, regionally and nationally. 

Read more…

Pre-K for All: New study recommends ways to bring universal quality to universal access

The Institute’s New York City Early Childhood Research Network brings research scientists and public agency leaders together to learn from each other, conduct research and consider findings and their implications for public policy. Columbia University’s National Center for Children and Families at Teacher College, one of the Network’s research teams, have released their study that compared the implementation of the Pre-K for All initiative in community based programs and schools. Overall, researchers found that differences in Pre-K for All implementation have more to with the program oversight and resources than with the socio economic makeup of the neighborhoods in which program are located. The findings suggest that the goal of uniform quality could be accomplished by pollinating approaches across the system while allowing program providers to adapt early education to the specific needs of the children and diverse communities they serve. As the city moves to a unified system, the report also shares recommendations to providing access to high-quality preschool across all settings.

To read the full research report, click here.

The Aspire Registry Spring Newsletter

The Aspire Registry team has released their spring newsletter. Since 2015, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. The newsletter is distributed to over 25,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.

In the spring newsletter, the Aspire Registry shares information about the New York Association for the Education of Young Children (NYAEYC) Annual Conference. The Aspire Registry Team considers NYAEYC one of their most valued partners. Together they are working to make sure all early childhood providers have access to training and technical assistance. The newsletter also highlights conference sessions that are being facilitated by other projects housed at the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute. In addition, trainers from the Capital District Child Care Council are featured in the spotlight. The team has used the Aspire Registry to post their trainings for over five years. They share the simplicity in documenting the trainings they facilitate as well as the trainings they attend as part of their own professional development.

To read the newsletter, click here.

ACS and CUNY Join Forces to Educate NYC Parents

A recent article from Voices of NY highlights a project between the Administration for Children’s Services and CUNY to help parents of young children obtain the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA). The CDA is the most widely recognized national credential in early childhood education and an important stepping stone on the career pathway for many early childhood educators. The Institute and CUNY’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) offer college courses that lead to the CDA, as well as assistance and supports in completing the credential application process. This is the only comprehensive college credit-bearing CDA in New York City.

The Institute and ACS launched this initiative in 2016 for parents of children enrolled in ACS early education programs. The initiative educates parents, helps them to access a career pathway, and promotes the creation of high quality early childhood programs. Since it is directed toward low-income parents, getting certified is cost-free for participants. The article features the parent of a child enrolled in an ACS Head Start program who has obtained her CDA certificate through this initiative. The Institute commends the forward thinking of ACS in supporting the growth of the early childhood workforce.

To read the article in English, click here, and in Spanish, click here.  

Quality Pre-K

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute works to ensure access to excellence for all young children by working with early childhood organizations locally, across the state, and around the country to create and enhance comprehensive early childhood systems serving children from birth through age 8. The Institute's Executive Director, Sherry Cleary, and the Director of QUALITYstarsNY, Leslie Capello, spoke to Susan Arbetter from WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom and shared what children need in Pre-K to set the foundation for future growth.

To listen to the podcast, click here.




Staten Island Alliance for North Shore Children and Families

The Institute is pleased to announce that in January 2019, we began a new project, funded by The Staten Island Foundation, to coordinate and support the work of the Staten Island Alliance for North Shore Children and Families. The Alliance is a collective impact initiative, bringing together local stakeholders interested in improving the outcomes for young children and their families. Collective impact is a methodology that brings people and organizations together to achieve social change. Over the last couple of years, the Alliance has explored the barriers and opportunities that North Shore families, child care providers, social service agencies, higher education, and other important organizations and leaders encountered in the local environment.

The Institute will serve as the backbone organization for these coordinated efforts, partnering closely with the Alliance’s Steering Committee and working groups to refine policy principles and priorities, track regulatory and legislative progress that pertains to the Alliance’s agenda, recognize and amplify the expertise of Alliance members, and seek communications opportunities to influence change for North Shore families and children. The Institute will also work with the other relevant collective impact initiatives on Staten Island to strengthen the infrastructure needed to promote greater equity and drive social change within vulnerable communities. The Institute plans to work with the steering committee, the working groups, the parent committee, and community partners to identify activities and opportunities that align with identified priorities and to provide data and evaluation support to guide these actions and measure their impact.

Our newest team member, Jared Carroll, will lead the work of this project. He has begun meeting with all of the relevant stakeholders on Staten Island and is excited to help the Alliance move into its next phase of implementation. "It's been inspiring to learn about the strong community of partners that the Alliance has brought together. The spirit of collaboration is truly unique, and I feel lucky to be supporting their work."

This project is supported by The Staten Island Foundation, which has been a fundamental source of support in the collective impact work happening across Staten Island. The Foundation’s Executive Director, Betsy Dubovsky, stated, “We welcome the able Project Director that the Institute has brought on board for the Alliance work. We value the Institute’s strong expertise in the field of early childhood and its connections to relevant agencies and partners throughout the city and state and we look forward to collectively improving outcomes for young children and their families on our Staten Island North Shore.”

We welcome Jared to the Institute team and look forward to helping the Alliance improve early childhood education opportunities for young children and their families on Staten Island.