Early Childhood Development Model

Children in ECD programs perform better at school and are more confident
Children in ECD programs perform better at school and are more confident




Early childhood development (EDC) is critical, not only for life long health, but also a means to reduce intergenerational transmission of poverty. Impoverished children often have the most deprived upbringing, setting them up for poor school achievement and lower lifetime earnings.

Long-term studies have demonstrated positive associations between a child’s involvement in Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs and his/her readiness for primary school, and increased life-long income. In addition, family members report that children enrolled in ECD programs have better social skills, cry less often and are more responsible in the home. Research shows that children benefiting from the community-based ECD model on average have better nutritional and health status, perform better in primary school, show improved ability to socialize and are more confident.



CARE’s comprehensive 5X5 Model intervenes in five areas to help young children survive and thrive. The areas include health, food and nutrition, child development (inclusive of physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development), economic security and child protection. The Model addresses these areas at five levels including the following:

  • the individual child
  • the caregiver/family
  • child care settings
  • the community (including health and municipal services)
  • the wider policy environment with a focus on national ministries of health and education.

 While the child is the focus, childcare settings provide cost-effective opportunities to deliver services to a number of children, their families and community.


CARE Rwanda’s model for community based ECD interventions for OVC aged 0-6 includes three major elements, all community-based and largely community-managed:

ECD centers for children between 3 and 6 years old
An ECD center encompasses three classrooms with furnishings and materials, teachers (remunerated via parents’ monthly fees) trained using the MINEDUC ECD curriculum, a Parent Committee that learns to manage the center, and up to 30 children per class in double-shifts. Children benefit from attention to their physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development, receive a daily amount of porridge and access health services via links between the center, the local health facility and the Community Health Worker (CHW).  Their parents enjoy extensive training in child development, health and nutrition, income-generating activities, and participation in CARE's Village Savings and Loan (VSL) groups.

Home-based ECD for children between 18 months and 3 years old
Unlike ECD Centers, Home-Based (HB) ECDs are managed solely by the parents of attending children. Each group is self-selecting; one family volunteers to provide an indoor room, outdoor play space and an area to store and cook porridge.  Each site is fitted with hand-washing and latrine facilities.  As at the ECD Centers, a tie is developed with the local CHW, who helps monitor children’s growth and wellbeing, brings outreach services to the HB ECD, and oversees referrals for children needing health care. Parents (in practice usually the mothers) develop a rotating schedule in which each woman oversees the HB ECD for one morning a week.  CARE’s major role is to provide training and guidance to the parents engaged in each HB ECD. Those who oversee the children receive a shorter version of the ECD teacher training.   

Home visits for children younger than 18 months and pregnant mothers
To reach the youngest children in the target range, CARE developed the role of Mother Leader.  Her focus is on the health and developmental needs of infants, toddlers and their parents. The Mother Leader is an HB ECD parent who volunteers to regularly visit the homes of children under 18 months, pregnant and lactating women. She encourages pre- and ante-natal care, monitors child growth, and provides parents information on fetal and child development. A cadre of Mother Leaders thus extends the reach of the CHW into households. At the same time, they extend the CHW’s reach into HB ECDs. Each month, CHWs train Mother Leaders in a new health or nutrition topic; the latter then share this information with other parents in the HB ECD.


For further information, please see the attachment of the complete model report.

Model Info

  • Date first used: 2007 July

  • Partners using model:

    CARE works with Rwandan NGO the Strive Foundation to expand access to ECD services for children

  • Districts using model:
    • Kamonyi,
    • Musanze,
    • Nyamagabe