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Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

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Integrated Child Development Services Official Logo
Integrated Child Development Services Official Logo

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

  • The ICDS scheme was launched on 2nd October 1975.
  • Objectives

    The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme was launched with the following objectives:

    • to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;
    • to lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;
    • to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;
    • to achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and
    • to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.
  • Services

    The above objectives are sought to be achieved through a package of services comprising:

    • supplementary nutrition,
    • immunization,
    • health check-up,
    • referral services,
    • pre-school non-formal education and
    • nutrition & health education.

The various services under ICDS

  • Nutrition including Supplementary Nutrition Programme(SNP)

    • This includes supplementary feeding and growth monitoring; and prophylaxis against vitamin A deficiency and control of nutritional anaemia.
    • All families in the community are surveyed, to identify children below the age of six and pregnant & nursing mothers. They avail of supplementary feeding support for 300 days in a year. By providing supplementary feeding, the Anganwadi attempts to bridge the caloric gap between the national recommended and average intake of children and women in low income and disadvantaged communities.
    • Children below the age of three years of age are weighed once a month and children 3-6 years of age are weighed quarterly. Weight-for-age growth cards are maintained for all children below six years. This helps to detect growth faltering and helps in assessing nutritional status.
    • Besides, severely malnourished children are given special supplementary feeding and referred to medical services.
  • Immunization

    • Immunization of pregnant women and infants protects children from six vaccine preventable diseases-poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis and measles. These are major preventable causes of child mortality, disability, morbidity and related malnutrition.
    • Immunization of pregnant women against tetanus also reduces maternal and neonatal mortality.
  • Health Check-ups

    • This includes health care of children less than six years of age, antenatal care of expectant mothers and postnatal care of nursing mothers.
    • The various health services provided for children by anganwadi workers and Primary Health Centre (PHC) staff, include regular health check-ups, recording of weight, immunization, management of malnutrition, treatment of diarrhoea, de-worming and distribution of simple medicines etc.
  • Referral Services

    • During health check-ups and growth monitoring, sick or malnourished children, in need of prompt medical attention, are referred to the Primary Health Centre or its sub-centre.
    • The anganwadi worker has also been oriented to detect disabilities in young children. She enlists all such cases in a special register and refers them to the medical officer of the Primary Health Centre/ Sub-centre.
  • Non-formal Pre-School Education (PSE)

    • The Non-formal Pre-school Education (PSE) component of the ICDS may well be considered the backbone of the ICDS programme, since all its services essentially converge at the anganwadi – a village courtyard.
    • Anganwadi Centre (AWC) – a village courtyard – is the main platform for delivering of these services. These AWCs have been set up in every village in the country.
  • Nutrition and Health Education

    • Nutrition, Health and Education (NHED) is a key element of the work of the anganwadi worker. This forms part of BCC (Behaviour Change Communication) strategy. This has the long term goal of capacity-building of women – especially in the age group of 15-45 years – so that they can look after their own health, nutrition and development needs as well as that of their children and families.

Funding Pattern

  • ICDS is a Centrally-sponsored Scheme implemented through the State Governments/UT Administrations.
  • Prior to 2005-06, 100% financial assistance for inputs other than supplementary nutrition, which the States were to provide out of their own resources, was being provided by the Government of India.
  • Since many States were not providing adequately for supplementary nutrition in view of resource constraints, it was decided in 2005-06 to support States up to 50% of the financial norms or to support 50% of expenditure incurred by them on supplementary nutrition, whichever is less.
  • From the financial year 2009-10, Government of India has modified the funding pattern of ICDS between Centre and States. The sharing pattern of supplementary nutrition in respect of North-eastern States between Centre and States has been changed from 50:50 to 90:10 ratio.
  • So far as other States and UTs, the existing sharing pattern of 50:50 continues. However, for all other components of ICDS, the ratio has been modified to 90:10(100% Central Assistance earlier).

Supplementary Nutrition

  • Supplementary Nutrition Norms

Nutrition Plan under ICDS
Nutrition Plan under ICDS
  • Types of Supplementary Nutrition

    • Children in the age group 0 – 6 months : For Children in this age group, States/ UTs may ensure continuation of current guidelines of early initiation (within one hour of birth) and exclusive breast-feeding for children for the first 6 months of life.
    • Children in the age group 6 months to 3 years : For children in this age group, the existing pattern of Take Home Ration (THR) under the ICDS Scheme will continue. However, in addition to the current mixed practice of giving either dry or raw ration (wheat and rice) which is often consumed by the entire family and not the child alone, THR should be given in the form that is palatable to the child instead of the entire family.
    • Children in the age group 3 to 6 years : For the children in this age group, State/ UTs have been requested to make arrangements to serve Hot Cooked Meal in AWCs and mini-AWCs under the ICDS Scheme. Since the child of this age group is not capable of consuming a meal of 500 calories in one sitting, the States/ UTs are advised to consider serving more than one meal to the children who come to AWCs. Since the process of cooking and serving hot cooked meal takes time, and in most of the cases, the food is served around noon, States/ UTs may provide 500 calories over more than one meal. States/ UTs may arrange to provide a morning snack in the form of milk/ banana/ egg/ seasonal fruits/ micronutrient fortified food etc.

Registration of beneficiaries

Since BPL is no longer a criteria under ICDS, States have to ensure registration of all eligible beneficiaries.

Budget Allocation

Alongside gradual expansion of the Scheme, there has also been a significant increase in the Budgetary allocation for ICDS Scheme from Rs.10391.75 crore in 10th Five Year Plan to Rs.44,400 crore in XI Plan Period.

International Partners

Government of India partners with the following international agencies to supplement interventions under the ICDS:

  • United Nations International Children’ Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

    UNICEF supports the ICDS by providing technical support for the development of training plans, organizing of regional workshops and dissemination of best practices of ICDS. It also assists in service delivery and accreditation system where the capacity of ICDS functionary is strengthened. Impact assessment in selected States on early childhood nutrition and development, micro-nutrient and anemia control through Vit. ‘A’ supplementations and deworming interventions for children in the age group of 9-59 months is also conducted by UNICEF from time to time.

  • Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)

    UNICEF CARE is primarily implementing some non-food projects in areas of maternal and child health, girl primary education, micro-credit etc. Integrated Nutrition and Health Project (INHP)-III, which is a phaseout programme of INHP series would come to an end on 31.12.2009.

  • World Food Programme (WFP)

    WFP has been extending assistance to enhance the effectiveness and outreach of the ICDS Scheme in selected districts (Tikamgarh & Chhattarpur in Madhya Pradesh, Koraput, Malkangir & Nabrangpur in Orissa, Banswara in Rajasthan and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh), notably, by assisting the State Governments to start and expand production of low cost micronutrient fortified food known as ‘Indiamix’. Under this the concerned State Government are required to contribute to the cost of Indiamix by matching the WFP wheat contribution at a 1:1 cost sharing ratio.

Special Focus on North East

Keeping in view the special needs of North Eastern States, the Central Government sanctioned construction of 4800 Anganwadi Centres at a cost of Rs.60 crore in 2001-02, 7600 Anganwadi Centres at a cost of Rs.95.00 crore in 2002-03 and 7600 AWCs at a cost of Rs.95.00 crore in 2004-05. In the wake of expansion of ICDS Scheme in 2005-06, it was provided in the Scheme itself that GOI will support construction of AWCs in NE States. The cost of construction was also revised from Rs.1.25 lakh per centre to Rs.1.75 lakh per center. In 2006-07, 50% of funds have been released to all the NE States except the State of Manipur.

Recent Initiatives

    • Special focus on coverage of SC/ST and Minority population.
    • Introduction of cost sharing between Centre & States, with effect from the financial year 2009-10, in the following ratio:
      • 90:10 for all components including for North East;
      • 50:50 for SNP and 90:10 for all other components for all States other than North East.
    • Budgetary allocation for ICDS Scheme increased from Rs.10391.75 crore in 10th Five Year Plan to Rs.44,400 crore in the 11th Plan Period

Introduction of WHO growth standards in ICDS

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) based on the results of an intensive study initiated in 1997 in six countries including India has developed New International Standards for assessing the physical growth, nutritional status and motor development of children from birth to 5 years age. The Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Health have adopted the New WHO Child Growth Standard in India on 15th of August, 2008 for monitoring the Growth of Children through ICDS and NRHM.
  • Implications: Change in current estimates
    • increase in total of normal weight children
    • increase in severely underweight children
    • increase in underweight children (mild/moderate and severe) in age group of 0-6 months.
  • Achievements: There has been significant progress in the implementation of ICDS Scheme during X Plan both and during XI Plan (up to 31.12.2010), in terms of increase in number of operational projects and Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) and coverage of beneficiaries with No. of Supplementary nutrition beneficiaries @ 918.65 lakh and No. of pre-school education beneficiaries  @ 355.02 lakh on the year ending 31st December 2010.


  • In pursuance of its commitment to the cause of India’s Children, present government has decided to set up an AWC in every human habitation/ settlement. As a result, total number of AWC would go up to almost 1.4 million. This is also the most joyful play-way daily activity, visibly sustained for three hours a day. It brings and keeps young children at the anganwadi centre – an activity that motivates parents and communities. PSE, as envisaged in the ICDS, focuses on total development of the child, in the age up to six years, mainly from the underprivileged groups. Its programme for the three-to six years old children in the anganwadi is directed towards providing and ensuring a natural, joyful and stimulating environment, with emphasis on necessary inputs for optimal growth and development. The early learning component of the ICDS is a significant input for providing a sound foundation for cumulative lifelong learning and development. It also contributes to the universalization of primary education, by providing to the child the necessary preparation for primary schooling and offering substitute care to younger siblings, thus freeing the older ones – especially girls – to attend school.
  • ICDS is the foremost symbol of India’s commitment to her children – India’s response to the challenge of providing pre-school education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality, on the other.
  • The concept of providing a package of services is based primarily on the consideration that the overall impact will be much larger if the different services develop in an integrated manner as the efficacy of a particular service depends upon the support it receives from related services.
  • Today, ICDS Scheme represents one of the world’s largest and most unique programmes for early childhood development.

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  1. excellent information……

    • Thanks sneha. Your appreciation is welcome. We will keep adding many more detailed articles for our readers reference.

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