Stepping Stones: Scaling Early Childhood Development at Anganwadi Centers in India

The Stepping Stones program aims to improve the government's existing Anganwadi early childhood development centres for indigenous tribal groups in rural communities through the development of an enhanced curriculum, use of technology to track implementation and child outcomes, public-private partnerships, and community engagement.
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Year launched: 
2015
Launch country: 

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting
Primary Approach: 
Implementer: 
Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed University)
Primary Topic: 
Education level (ISCED): 

Location Data

State/Province: 
Maharashtra
City: 
Nagpur, Wardha and Yavatmal districts
Geography type: 
Program Description: 

In India, Anganwadi centers are responsible for providing supplementary nutrition, preschool education, health education, and referral services to families with young children. During implementation in two districts of Central India, Stepping Stones improved the quality of Early Childhood Development (ECD) services at Anganwadi centers through staff training, the application of a family centered curriculum and through the use of public-private partnerships.

The training opportunities are provided to both Anganwadi workers and program volunteers. Anganwadi workers are trained in early education practices through partnerships with private preschools.  Volunteers are trained and certified before assisting Anganwadi workers with lessons. The involvement of volunteers increased the amount of one-on-one interaction children receive. 

Additionally, Anganwadi Centers are incentivized to participate in partnerships with private preschools due to the opportunity to receive special recognition as an Anganwadi Plus Center. The project created enhanced curricula for early childhood development and implemented a positive parenting program through group sessions and home visits to optimize health service utilization. The project aimed for improvement on cognitive and behavioral measures for children in the intervention group compared to control group and the improved attendance of children at Anganwadi Centers (AWC) from 30% to at least 50%.

Highlighting Innovation: 
Tailored early childhood development curriculum and positive parenting package delivered through government pre-school education centers
Key Challenges: 
Seasonal migration of the beneficiaries for employment.