The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is the only major national programme that addresses the needs of children under the age of six years. It seeks to provide young children with an integrated package of services including supplementary nutrition, health care and pre-school education. Since the needs of a young child cannot be addressed in isolation from those of his or her mother, the programme also extends to adolescent girls, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
ICDS services include supplementary nutrition, growth monitoring, nutrition and health education, immunization, referrals, pre-school education and are provided through a vast network of child care and development centres, known as "anganwadis".
Aside from ICDS, other important interventions for children under six include maternity entitlements, crèches and optimal “infant and young child feeding” (IYCF) – some material on these can be found elsewhere on this site and more is on the way.