General Studies IIndian Society

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

Ministry of Women and Child Development


  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.  
  • The scheme was launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 by the government of Morarji Desai, and then relaunched by the Tenth Five Year Plan.
  • Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing this schemes for welfare, development and protection of children.
  • Tenth five-year plan also linked ICDS to Anganwadi centres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers.
  •  In addition to fighting malnutrition and ill health, the programmes is also intended to combat gender inequality by providing girls the same resources as boys.
  • A 2005 study found that the ICDS programme was not particularly effective in reducing malnutrition, largely because of implementation problems and because the poorest states had received the least coverage and funding.  
  • During the 2018–19 fiscal year, the Indian central government allocated ₹16,335 crores to the programme.  The widespread network of ICDS has an important role in combating malnutrition especially for children of weaker groups.
  • The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India and represents one of the world’s largest and unique programmes for early childhood care and development.
  • It is the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and nursing mothers, as a response to the challenge of providing pre-school non-formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality on the other.
  • The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Objectives of the Scheme are:
    • 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.

Scope of services:
The ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services, viz.

  • Supplementary Nutrition
  • Pre-school non-formal education
  • Nutrition & health education
  • Immunization
  • Health check-up and
  • Referral services

The last three services are related to health and are provided by Ministry/Department of Health and Family Welfare through NRHM & Health system. The perception 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 the related services.
For better governance in the delivery of the Scheme, convergence is, therefore, one of the key features of the ICDS Scheme. This convergence is in-built in the Scheme which provides a platform in the form of Anganwadi Centres for providing all services under the Scheme.

The delivery of services to the beneficiaries is as follows:

ServicesTarget GroupService provided by
(i) Supplementary Nutrition Children below 6 years, Pregnant & Lactating Mothers (P&LM)Anganwadi Worker and Anganwadi Helper [MWCD]
(ii) Immunization*Children below 6 years, Pregnant & Lactating Mothers (P&LM)  ANM/MO
[Health system, MHFW]
(iii) Health Check-up*Children below 6 years, Pregnant & Lactating Mothers (P&LM)  ANM/MO/AWW
[Health system, MHFW]
(iv) Referral ServicesChildren below 6 years, Pregnant & Lactating Mothers (P&LM)  AWW/ANM/MO
[Health system, MHFW]
(v) Pre-School EducationChildren 3-6 yearsAWW
(vi) Nutrition & Health EducationWomen (15-45 years)AWW/ANM/MO
[Health system, MHFW & MWCD]

Funding Pattern

  • Prior to 2005-06, providing of supplementary nutrition was the responsibility of the States and administrative cost was provided by the Government of India as 100% central assistance.
  • The nutrition costs were meagre and coverage of the programme in all villages/habitations was also limited and not universal.
  • Since many States were not providing adequate supplementary nutrition in view of resource constraints, it was decided in 2005-06 to support the States/UTs up to 50% of the financial norms or to support 50% of expenditure incurred by them on supplementary nutrition, whichever is less.
  • Since 2009-10, Government of India has modified the sharing pattern of the ICDS Scheme between the 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 ratios.
  • In respect of other States/UTs, the existing sharing pattern in respect of supplementary nutrition is 50:50.
  • The existing cost sharing ratio for other components is 90:10 except the new components approved under Strengthening & Restructuring for which it is 75:25 (90:10 for NER).

Existing Monitoring System under ICDS Scheme:

  • Wheat Based Nutrition Programme (WBNP)
  • Welfare Measures for the AWWs and AWHs
  • Anganwadi Karyakartri Bima Yojana (AKBY)
  • Female Critical Illness (FCI) Benefits
  • Shiksha Sahayog through Anganwadi Karyakartri Bima Yojana(AKBY-LIC)

Approval of Strengthening and Restructuring of ICDS in the 12th Five Year Plan

In order to address various programmatic, management and institutional gaps and to meet administrative and operational challenges, Government has approved the Strengthening and Restructuring of ICDS Scheme with an allocation of Rs. 1,23,580 crore during 12th Five Year Plan.

Restructured and Strengthened ICDS has been rolled out in 200 high burden districts in the first year (2012-13); in additional 200 districts in second year (2013-14Key features of Strengthened and Restructured ICDS, inter-alia, include addressing the gaps and challenges with :

 A. Programmatic Reforms

  • Repositioning the AWC as a “vibrant ECD centre” to become the first village outpost for health, nutrition and early learning – minimum of six hours of working, etc.
  • Construction of AWC Building and revision of rent including up-gradation, maintenance, improvement and repair.
  • Strengthening Package of Services – strengthening ECCE, focus on under-3s, Care and Nutrition Counselling service for mothers of under-3s and Management of severe and moderate underweight.
  • Improving Supplementary Nutrition Programme with revision of cost norms
  • Management of severe and moderate underweight – identification and management of severe and moderate underweight through community based interventions, Sneha Shivirs, etc.
  • Strengthening training and capacity as well as technical human resource, etc.

 B.     Management Reforms

  • Decentralized planning, management and flexible architecture introduction of Annual Programme of Implementation Plan (APIP) and flexibility to States for innovations. 
  • Ensuring convergence at all the levels including the grassroot level.
  • Strengthening governance – including PRIs, Civil Society & institutional partnerships with norm of up to 10% projects to be implemented in collaboration with such agencies.
  • Strengthening of ICDS Management Information System (MIS).
  • Using Information, Communication Technology (ICT) – web enabled MIS and use of mobile telephoney and others.
  • Deploying adequate human and Financial Resources with revision of some of the existing norms in components, training, etc. introducing new items,– pool of untied/flexi fund (for promoting voluntay action, local innovations, Anganwadi-cum-creche, addl worker and link worker, provision for children in special needs etc)

 C. Institutional Reforms

  • ICDS in Mission Mode with missions at National, State and District levels.
  • Introducing APIPs and MoUs with States/UTs.
  • Technical and management support for ICDS at various levels hitherto not available.
  • Delivery of quality services with measured inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes.
  • Mission to report to the Prime Minister’s Council at National leveland to the CM’s council at the State level on Nutrition, Child Development including early learning, etc. State Child Development Society will be set up at the State level with powers to set up its District Units. Fund transfer of the ICDS Mission will be channeled through the Consolidated Fund of the State. However, in the event the State fails to transfer the funds within 15 days, it will be liable to pay interest on the amount on the pattern of releases for the Finance Commission funds;
  • Nutrition Counsellor cum Additional Worker in 200 high burden districts and link workers in others district will be on demand by State Government approved through APIPs by EPC.
  • District Mission Unit would be set up as per the phasing plan of the ICDS Mission. Besides, District ICDS Cells to continue to operate as per existing norms and District Cells to be set up in those districts where the Cell is not existing;
  • Constitution of a Mission Steering Group (NMSG) and Empowered Programme Committee (EPC) at National and State levels for effective planning, implementation, monitoring and supervision of ICDS Mission;
  • Creation of a separate ICDS Mission Budget head to allow flexibility and integration within the child development and nutrition sectors and for convergent action with wider determinants of maternal and child under-nutrition.
  • The ICDS Mission targets would be to attain three main outcomes namely; i) Prevent and reduce young child under-nutrition (% underweight children 0-3 years) by 10 percentage point; (ii) Enhance early development and learning outcomes in all children 0-6 years of age; and (iii) Improve care and nutrition of girls and women and reduce anaemia prevalence in young children, girls and women by one fifth. Annual Health Survey (AHS) and District Level Household Survey (DLHS) to be used as baseline for measuring the outcomes of ICDS mission.
  • To strengthen training and capacity building.
  • Revision of rent for AWC building up to Rs.750, Rs.3000 and Rs.5000 per month per unit for Rural/Tribal, Urban and Metropolitan cities respectively, revised norms for pre-school education (PSE) kits @ Rs.3000 per AWC p.a and Rs.1500 per mini-AWC p.a.; revised cost norms for two uniforms @ Rs.300 each per annum per worker subject to overall budgetary allocations and piloting of Crèche services in 5% of the AWCs.


  • For nutritional purposes ICDS provides 500 kilocalories (with 12-15 grams of protein) every day to every child below 6 years of age.
  • For adolescent girls it is up to 500 kilo calories with up to 25 grams of protein every day.
  • The services of Immunisation, Health Check-up and Referral Services delivered through Public Health Infrastructure under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Revamp for Urban Areas

  • Health and ICDS models that work in rural areas may not work in urban areas because of higher population density, transportation challenges and migration.
  • Children in urban areas were overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold thickness (SSFT) for their age.
  • The first-ever pan-India survey on the nutrition status of children, highlighted that malnutrition among children in urban India.
  • It found a higher prevalence of obesity because of relative prosperity and lifestyle patterns, along with iron and Vitamin D deficiency.
  • According to government data from 2018, of the 14 lakh anganwadis across the country there are only 1.38 lakh anganwadis in urban areas.


Despite increasing funding over the past three decades, the ICDS fell short of its stated objectives and still faces a number of challenges. Also, though it has widespread coverage, operational gaps mean that service delivery is not consistent in quality and quantity across the country

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