Mother plays with her 9 month old daughter, outside their home
Photo credit: Kate Holt/MCSP

All components of nurturing care — good health, adequate nutrition, security and safety responsive caregiving and opportunities for early learning — are critical to improve early childhood development (ECD) outcomes. Integrating responsive care and early learning messages into existing nutrition counseling has significant potential to amplify the impact of both nutrition and ECD outcomes. To address gaps in existing nutrition counseling packages, USAID Advancing Nutrition, together with an external technical advisory group, has developed counseling materials that can be added or integrated into existing child health, nutrition, or infant and young child feeding (IYCF) counseling packages. The technical advisory group—composed of an interdisciplinary team of experts in ECD, nutrition, and social and behavior change—agreed on priority behaviors, structure and content to integrate into nutrition counseling packages, known as the Responsive Care and Early Learning (RCEL) Addendum package.

The RCEL Addendum is designed for a general audience, allowing flexibility and adaptation to different country contexts and nutrition or health packages. It includes illustrated counseling cards, training materials, and a guide for planning, adaptation and implementation, flexibly designed to be used in both individual counseling and group sessions. Moreover, the content is not specific to a geographic region or sub-region, and programs can adapt materials to fit their local context by adjusting the content and delivery modalities most appropriate for their audiences. USAID Advancing Nutrition is testing the RCEL Addendum in multiple contexts in 2021-2022, and materials will be made available on the website as they are completed. The current draft version, which has yet to be validated, is available by request to USAID Advancing Nutrition. Email us at info@advancingnutrition.org to learn more.