Maryland Child Care Credential Program

Due to a lack of continued funding, effective June 30, 2024, the Maryland State Department of Education will stop accepting applications. Additionally, bonuses for credentialing or reimbursements for training (or training vouchers) will not be available after this date. View the memo from the Division of Early Childhood's Assistant State Superintendent, Dr. Shayna Cook, to Maryland's General Assembly.
Programs participating in Maryland EXCELS will be able to maintain current quality ratings and achieve increased quality ratings without current Maryland Child Care Credentials. We invite you to join us for virtual information sessions scheduled for:
•  June 7, 2024, 11:30 AM
•  June 12, 2024, 11:00 AM
•  June 21, 2024, 2:00 PM Registration Link
•  June 25, 2024, 6:00 PM
During these sessions, we will share updates and discuss how best to strengthen the program in the future. The FAQs are available here

The Maryland Child Care Credential Program recognizes individual child care providers who increase their qualifications beyond the requirements of state licensing and registration regulations. There are six staff credential levels and four administrator levels offering various recognition of achievement based on a child care provider’s professional development/education, years of experience, and professional activities.

The Program is voluntary.  Registered family child care providers and child care center staff are encouraged to participate.

Do you want to become credentialed?

  • Important Program Information

    There are many different training options and educational pathways for child care providers.  Depending on your goals and the stage of your career, you may participate in one or more of the following options:

    • Core of Knowledge/continued training from an approved trainer, training organization or an accredited college or university
    • Child Development Associate (CDA) training, which includes courses that meet the training requirements set by the National Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition
    • A college degree from an accredited college or university

    Once you have decided on your goals, you can then map out your professional development plan. Be sure to check with the Credentialing Program to ensure that the training you are interested in will apply toward your credential goals. 

  • Credential Requirements -- Eligibility for Participation

    I am qualifiedYou are eligible to participate in the Maryland Child Care Credential Program if you are a registered family child care provider or an operator, director, or staff member (teacher or aide) in a licensed child care center.

    You are not eligible for the Credential Program if you have been sanctioned by the Office of Child Care or are a substitute or volunteer in a child care program.

    Credentials are issued for a 12-month period and may be renewed if you continue working in a registered or licensed child care program, complete continued training for the applicable credential level, and participate in professional activities related to the child care profession for the applicable level. 

  • Achievement Bonus

    BonusAn achievement bonus is available to you when you achieve a Credential Level Two or higher. Bonuses are paid directly to you. 

  • Core of Knowledge

    Turn knowledge into actionCore of Knowledge is defined as theories and practices that are essential for individuals working with children in child care programs.  Core of Knowledge is divided into six domains:

    • Child Development
    • Health, Safety, and Nutrition
    • Special Needs
    • Curriculum
    • Professionalism
    • Community

    Training that meets the Core of Knowledge domains can be obtained from an approved trainer, training organization, or an accredited college or university. The training may be taken across all age groups or in a specific age group -- infant/toddler, preschool or school age. Click here (PDF) to download a chart with more information about Core of Knowledge domains.

  • Professional Activity Units (PAUs)

    Learn / LeadThe Maryland Child Care Credential Program requires participation in professional activities that engage the participant in the broader aspects of early childhood education and school-age care, and increase the knowledge of others inside and outside of the profession.

    Active involvement in professional activities promotes and supports workforce development and program improvement, which ultimately improves outcomes for children.

    Professional Activity Units (PAUs) are the values assigned to professional activities depending on the number of hours spent, level of effort, and/or commitment to the activity. The following charts contain descriptions and the number of units assigned for relevant professional activities:

    One (1) Professional Activity Unit Chart (PDF)

    Two (2) Professional Activity Unit Chart (PDF)

    Three (3) Professional Activity Unit Chart (PDF)

    And this matrix (PDF) provides examples of PAUs.

  • Credential Levels

    There are six staff credential levels and four administrator levels. All criteria must be met to qualify for each credential level. Click on the following chart to learn more about the credential levels:

    The Child Care Credential Program Booklet (PDF)

    For any professional activities completed, but which are not listed on the PAU Matrix, you must submit a Professional Activities Approval Form. The Workforce Advancement Branch then makes a determination about the activity.

    To get credit for any professional activities completed, but which are not listed on the PAU Matrix, you must submit a Professional Activities Approval Form (PDF).  The Workforce Advancement Branch will then make a determination about the activity.