Nurturing Care Groups (NCGs) address issues around poor infant and young child feeding (IYCF), home management and care seeking for sick children and other disease prevention practices. As a project model used to promote behavior change, Nurturing Care Groups can achieve measurable impact across multiple sectors when used alone or in conjunction with other core project models.
What is the NCG Core project model?
A Nurturing Care Group is a group of 10 to 15 community-based volunteer behaviour change agents who meet every two weeks with project staff or government Community Health Workers (CHWs) for training, and then cascade down behaviour change messages and activities to caregiver groups at the neighbourhood level. They also build social support and cohesion among members, and help link neighbourhoods with community leaders, faith leaders and government services/ staff (e.g. clinics, social workers).
Target households in each neighbourhood choose the volunteers that form the NCGs. NCGs create a multiplying effect and equitably reach every beneficiary household through neighbour-to-neighbour contacts using interpersonal behaviour change activities. They enhance behaviour change through peer support and creating new community norms, using both home visits and group meetings, reaching all families in the target group on a fortnightly basis.
What are the Core Components of the NCG Core project model?
The NCG CPM is based upon theories of behavioural change including the “Health Belief Model”, the “Theory of Planned Behaviour” and the “Theory of Reasoned Action.” The mix of methods used in NCGs is based on the Trans- theoretical (Stages of Change) Model which emphasizes that people are often at different stages of readiness for change. Many of the techniques built into the NCG modules and lesson plans are based on these models and other state-of-the-art behaviour change science. Field Offices can prioritize about ten, 2-3 month long modules (with 4-6 behaviours promoted per module) from WASH, Health & Nutrition, Education, and Child Protection. (Livelihood behaviours have also been promoted through the Care Group approach but are not a focus of this NCG CPM.) This 48-72 lesson curricula could be taught over a 24-36 month period, or a shorter curricula can be used for projects with a shorter duration.
An essential element of the NCG CPM is having women serve as role models (and sometimes early adopters) and to promote behavioural adoption by their neighbours. Part of the impetus for the NCG CPM was the growing body of evidence showing that integration of multisectoral activities – such as combining nutrition supplementation with early child stimulation –produces better outcomes for complex problems (e.g., stunting) than single sector activities alone.