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.

Draft Package Now Available

USAID Advancing Nutrition is currently testing the RCEL Addendum in northern Ghana and the Kyrgyz Republic in 2021–2022. The untested materials are available for others who may be interested in testing them. After completion of the testing in Ghana and the Kyrgyz Republic, the final versions will be updated here for widespread use. All images used in the RCEL Addendum package are also made available through the IYCF Image Bank.

We are interested in hearing feedback from others who may use this prototype of the RCEL Addendum package and request any feedback you may have, or questions about using the materials, to be sent to info@advancingnutrition.org.