The woman and Child Development Department was formed as a separate administrative department by the Government of Maharashtra in 1993. The main objectives of the Department are to focus on promoting the survival, protection, development, welfare, and participation of women and children in a holistic manner. The department is responsible for policy-making, formulation of programs/schemes, implementation of development programs, and coordination of efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organizations working in the field of Women and Child Development. 

After the success of the pilot project in Yavatmal and Aurangabad, the state leadership owns the initiative and initiated the scale-up across the state in partnership with Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram, and UNICEF.  Aarambh utilizes the existing opportunities available through Integrated child development scheme services (ICDS) to reach all children with comprehensive nurturing care interventions during their early years by empowering caregivers. The department has already shaped an Aakar initiative for children from the age of 3 to 6 years. The department has the vision to build the Aarambh with Aakar to align the programs for optimum child development. “If everything comes together – Aakar, Aarambh, and school education syllabus, it will be beneficial for the children in the long run,” Ms. Rubal Agrawal commissioner ICDS said. The district and field training are being done from the state fund. The program is being well received everywhere it is being introduced.

Department of woman and child development has the vision to look at the dimension of child nutrition and development; and collective efforts are being made to aspire the dream of nurturing and nourishing each and every child in Maharashtra.


UNICEF works to promote and protect the rights of children across India for 70 years. UNICEF believes that all children have a right to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential to the benefit of a better world. UNICEF India is committed to its continued support to the Government in this extraordinary journey of development to reach every child everywhere in India. The goal is to enable every child born in India to have the best start in life, to thrive, and develop to her or his full potential. UNICEF’s key strength lies in our evidence-based technical expertise that informs policy action and implementation, while at the same time building the capacity of partners.

UNICEF Maharashtra has established a partnership with MGIMS Sewagram Wardha, a medical institute of repute for demonstrating a scalable model for ECD in selected 17 ICDS projects of Yavatmal, Aurangabad, Palghar, and Pune (urban) districts. The implementation of ECD is based on UNICEF’s global ECCE framework. UNICEF has been instrumental in developing MIYCAN policy for the state and establishing phase III of the RJMCHN Nutrition Mission aligned with the National Nutrition Mission. This Mission will provide a robust platform for convergence and coordination as well as the development of a multi-sectoral response plan in the state and district for improving nutrition and growth by focusing on young children, adolescents, and women. UNICEF has played a substantial role in developing a comprehensive ECCE policy with a clear operational strategy for rolling out ‘AAKAR’ across the and has resulted in improved quality of non-formal preschool education through the AWCs.

UNICEF has made a significant contribution to scaling up the Aarambh initiative across the state for improving the nurturing care practices for early childhood development through the existing ICDS systems. The Aarambh initiative has been well received and owned by the state. UNICEF also has a key role in documenting and disseminating the best practices.


Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS), Sewagram is a multi-disciplinary health institution and is India’s first rural medical college. MGIMS is committed to providing accessible and affordable health care primarily to underprivileged rural communities. Quality research has been the hallmark of this rural institute and a large number of funded projects awarded to the various departments is ample testimony of this. 

The Department of Community Medicine has been implementing community-based programs to enhance health care services to rural communities. The department has a mission to create a model for decentralized rural and community health care delivery, to conduct and promote research on priority health problems, and to initiate policy advocacy for the health needs of the underprivileged communities. 

MGIMS has earlier participated in a multicentric WHO/ Intervida project, under which an India-specific early childhood development package was developed adopting the WHO/ UNICEF Care for Child Development Package for implementation through existing delivery channels available through ICDS and health system.

During 2018-20, DCM MGIMS in partnership with UNICEF and the Government of Maharashtra developed and demonstrated the effectiveness of an India-specific model for empowerment of families and communities for nurturing care of children in two focus districts of Maharashtra. This model, utilizing existing opportunities within ICDS, health, and other sectors, has been accepted as an Aarambh initiative for state-wide implementation in Maharashtra.

MGIMS has a critical role in scaling up the Aarambh initiative. Developing the training framework and package, and conducting the training of master trainers from the state are the core responsibilities of the team. The team has also a key role in providing technical support for monitoring the initiative and supporting social media campaigns to promote nurturing care interventions at household levels and to create excitement among the frontline functionaries and other stakeholders.