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Early Childcare and Development

Seva Mandir works in one of the poorest areas in India, where small children are often left unattended or in the care of young siblings. They lack adequate care, nutrition, security, safety and a stimulating environment in the home and outside. In a survey carried out in 2015, 50% of mothers said that they take their children with them to work and 40% said that they leave their child with his or her sibling.

The need for day care is becoming ever more acute as more and more rural women are working in agriculture. Women constitute 72% of the agriculture workforce and, due to higher male migration, they are forced to take on multiple responsibilities. The government runs a large day-care programme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), but the effectiveness of ICDS centres, or Anganwadis, is very limited.

They run only for four hours a day, do not function regularly and do not provide institutional care services for children under three years. Lack of quality day-care services with a holistic focus on health and education impacts children and their communities negatively. Elder siblings, often girls, lose out on education opportunities if they have to look after young children, and mothers either have to stop working or take young children with them, which results in either economic loss or compromising the development of young children.

To address these challenges, Seva Mandir uses two strategies: running its own Balwadis and strengthening government Anganwadis to address early childcare and development needs.

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