Integrated Child Development Services: Functions, Anganwadi and Beneficiaries | ICDS UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a government welfare program that the Indian government manages to provide food, preschool education, and primary healthcare facilities to children under six years of age and their mothers. According to the Women and Child Development Ministry, over 33 lakh children in India are malnourished. They need proper nourishment and care to live healthy lives at this delicate age.

In this article, we will go through what the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme does and the services that it implements. The ICDS Scheme is important because it can be asked both in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

The Integrated Child Development Scheme was launched on 2nd October 1975 and is a flagship program of the Government of India. As part of this ICDS Programme, the central government works with local Anganwadi centers to provide food, preschool education for children between 3-6 years, primary healthcare facilities, immunization, health check-up, and referral services to children under the age of 6 and their mothers.

The ICDS Programme, renamed Anganwadi Services, is the world’s largest initiative to provide integral child development services. The central government implements the scheme in India’s states and union territories.

ICDS Programme: Latest News

The Indian government celebrated the first week of September as nutrition week (from September 1 to 7, 2022). So all of India’s nutrition and food schemes are discussed and analyzed for their success rates over time.

The project aimed at the holistic development of children and the empowerment of mothers. It is a centrally funded scheme and is primarily managed through Anganwadi / Balavatika Centres. This ICDS scheme is under the control of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Services under the ICDS Programme

The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS Programme) provides for Anganwadis or day-care centers, which deliver a package of six services, including:

  • Supplementary Nutrition (for children under the age of 6 and expecting or lactating mothers)
  • Nutrition & health education (for women between the age of 15-45 years)
  • Immunization program (for children under the age of 6)
  • Health check-ups (for children and pregnant/lactating women)
  • Referral services (for children under the age of 6 and their mothers)
  • Pre-school non-formal education (for children between the age of 3-6 years)

These services are provided by the Anganwadi workers & Anganwadi helpers at Anganwadi Centers and Mini-Anganwadi Centers, Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD), Mahila Arogya Samiti Urban Immunization (MASUM).

Integrated Child Development Scheme: Objectives

The objectives of the ICDS Scheme are:

  • to enhance and provide support to expecting and recent mothers to look after their children and create awareness about good health and nutrition for the mother and the child
  • improving the health & wellness status of children between the age of 0-6 years
  • focusing on avenues that will enable proper development of psychological, physical, and social aspects of the child
  • promoting health initiatives to help reduce the instances of infant mortality, morbidity, and malnutrition among children and their mothers and reducing the school dropout rate

ICDS Programme represents one of the world’s largest and most unique programs that has been undertaken for early childhood care and development.

Services and Provisions Under ICDS Programme

The following six services are provided to the beneficiaries under the Integrated Child Development Scheme:

  • Health and nutrition check-ups: These include health care for children under six, antenatal care for pregnant women and postnatal care for lactating mothers. Services provided include routine health check-ups, diarrhea treatment, deworming treatment, weight recording, vaccinations and general medicine distribution.
  • Supplemental Nutrition (SNP): The SNP scheme seeks to bridge the gap between the national recommended and average calorie intake of children and women in low-income categories by providing supplementary food. Under this category of ICDS, children below 6 years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers are provided supplementary food and growth-related services to the community. Three hundred days of supplementary food are provided to the beneficiaries.
  • Health and nutrition education: Under this component, women aged 15 to 45 are provided nutrition and health education. This is part of the BCC (Behaviour, Change, Communication) strategy. The long-term goal is to build the capacity of women to look after their health, nutrition and development, as well as the needs of their children and families.
  • Immunization: Children are vaccinated against the following preventable diseases: diphtheria, polio, pertussis or whooping cough, measles, tuberculosis and tetanus. Pregnant women are vaccinated against tetanus which reduces neonatal and maternal mortality.
  • Referral Service: During routine health check-ups, any condition or disease requiring immediate treatment is referred to a hospital or a primary health center. Anganwadi workers are trained to identify disabilities in children so that early intervention can be provided.
  • Non-formal education for preschool children: This section can be considered the backbone of the ICDS scheme. All the services of this scheme are provided in Anganwadi /Balavatika centers in villages and rural areas, and urban slums. This preschool educational program, mainly for underprivileged children, is directed towards providing and ensuring a natural, pleasant and stimulating environment emphasizing the necessary inputs for optimal growth and development. The basic education component of ICDS Programme is an important input that provides a strong foundation for lifelong learning and development. It provides the child with the necessary preparation for primary school.

These services are mainly provided by Anganwadi centers established in rural areas and staffed by ENARA frontline workers.

Beneficiaries of ICDS Programme

The following table illustrates how ICDS Programme benefits different groups of adults and children.


Targeted Beneficiaries

Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNP)

Pregnant and lactating women.

Children under 6 years of age

Health and nutrition check-ups

Pregnant and lactating women.


Pregnant and lactating women.

Children under 6 years of age

Non-formal education for children in pre- primary-school

Children under 6 years of age

Health and nutrition education

Pregnant and lactating women.

Children under 6 years of age

Referral Service

Pregnant and lactating women.

Children under 6 years of age


Integrated Child Development Scheme(ICDS) is an important topic under the important schemes that could be asked in the UPSC Exam. Aspirants should be updated about the topic through the Current Affairs and related Government Schemes.

ICDS UPSC Questions

Question: Which of the following is/are true?

  1. Under ICDS, Supplementary Nutrition (SNP) is given to the children (6 months – 6 years) and pregnant women but not lactating mothers.
  2. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare handles the Nutrition & health education service under the ICDS.

Select the correct answer from the code given below:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: Option D

Question: Which of the following statements is/are correct about Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)?

  1. ICDS will be aimed at children under 5 years of age
  2. It also include their mothers.

Select the correct answer from the code given below:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Answer: Option B

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