A mother and child play with a ball made out of items that can be found around the home at an Early Childhood Development session in Sijri Veng Veng Village, Ghana
Kate Holt/MCSP

By: Kelsey Torres, Technical Specialist, USAID Advancing Nutrition 

Through my work in social and behavior change, as a Technical Specialist for USAID Advancing Nutrition, I recognize that understanding behaviors is at the heart of nutrition programming. We know that how families support a child with loving care, play, and stimulation is just as important as feeding for improved childhood outcomes. Exploring why and how families can adopt these responsive care and early learning (RCEL) behaviors is critical.

I was eager for the opportunity to manage a pilot activity related to RCEL in order to better understand the nexus of early childhood development and nutrition. The pilot includes a cascade training for health care providers and community-level counselors, along with research on the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of the draft RCEL Addendum counseling package and its integration with existing child health and nutrition packages. I joined our Ghana team for the first tier of the training to support preparation and facilitation, document experiences and learnings, and plan for adaptations as we cascade the training and make adjustments to strengthen the package. We aimed to equip facilitators, mostly nutrition or health officers and public health nurses, from four districts in northern Ghana who will be responsible for training health care providers in the next phase.