ICDS – Ensuring development of children

The Development of children has received considerable priority in the Government’s agenda.  One of the largest child welfare programmes initiated at the block level not only takes care of minimum nutritional need of the child but also provide a package, other basic services including immunization and pre school education.  Recently a scheme has been expanded to cover about 421.89 lakh children in the age group of 0 to 6 years and about 92.81 lakh pregnant and lactating mothers through a network of about 7.45 lakh Anganwadis.
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.
Additional benefits of the schemes: 
 It provides integrated services comprising:
i.                     supplementary nutrition,
ii.                   immunization,
iii.                  health check-up,
iv.                  referral services,
v.                    pre-school non-formal education and
vi.                  nutrition & health education.
Modalities for implementation:
ICDS is a Centrally-sponsored Scheme implemented through the State Governments/UT Administrations with 100% financial assistance for inputs other than supplementary nutrition, which the States were to provide out of their own resources. Since many States were not providing adequately for supplementary nutrition in view of resource constraints, it has been decided to support 50% of expenditure incurred by the States on supplementary nutrition.
Currently, services under the scheme are being provided to about 514.71 lakh beneficiaries, comprising of about 421.89 lakh children (0-6 years) and about 92.81 lakh pregnant and lactating mothers through a network of about 7.45 lakh Anganwadi Centres.
 Expansion of the ICDS
The National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the Government envisages that attempts will be made to universalize the ICDS Scheme to provide a functional Anganwadi in every settlement and ensure full coverage of all children. The Scheme has been now expanded to 467 new Projects and 1.88 lakh new Anganwadi Centres. Expansion of the Scheme involves additional budgetary provision of about Rs.467.05 crore per annum.
 Special Focus on North East:
The ICDS Scheme does not provide for construction of Anganwadi Centres.  However, the Scheme has now been modified to provide for construction of AWCs in NE States in view of their special needs and status.  It has been decided to construct AWCs in NE States on regular basis to the extent of utilization of residual funds out of 10% of Deptt.’s mandatory allocation for NE States.  All AWCs sanctioned till 2004-05 have been approved for construction by the Government of India.