“The CDA program through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent offered me a different opportunity for the summer.”

Editor’s Note: Matrix Head Start participated in Mayor Duggan’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program this summer. Fourteen youths received 120 hours of formal early childhood education training toward attaining their Child Development Associate (CDA), while earning wages for their time. Head Start requires a CDA, at minimum, to be an assistant teacher in an Early Head Start classroom.


“I had a job last summer, but Grow Detroit’s Young Talent offered me a different opportunity to explore what I wanted to study after high school. I plan to be a social worker and study sociology after I graduate from Cass Technical High School next year.

I wasn’t exactly sure how the CDA program would be structured, but I thought that it would help me understand what kind of social work I want to do. I don’t have younger siblings, so I hoped to understand more about working with young children and if it would be right for me.

The CDA program was mostly book-work, and I’m glad. I’ll be better prepared to actually go into an early childhood classroom now. I liked how the program was structured. Every week, we have a different competency statement where we had to write about what we learned. The program covered different segments of child development and learning – some deal with the more professional aspects of working with families and others with understanding the child’s needs and how he or she is going to think and react to what you say and do.

We studied the HighScope curriculum. I learned not to force kids to say they’re sorry and not to solve problems for them. Teachers help the kids work it out between themselves. The children learn to resolve conflict and can come to a conclusion they’re both comfortable with.

I learned that infants shouldn’t sleep on their stomachs because it’s a risk factor for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Most people I know have their babies sleep on their stomachs, but it’s actually very unsafe.

Once we complete this part of the CDA program with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, individually we have to decide if we want to continue to pursue earning the CDA. We need 480 hours of volunteer or paid classroom time. And then take the test.

I plan to work in a classroom during my senior year, so that I can get my CDA later. Originally, I was considering social work to deal with substance abuse. Now, I’m thinking maybe I’d work with kids and their families. Coming to the The Matrix Center every day, we saw all the ways children and families were being served. This experience has opened my eyes to this field.”

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