The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is convening a series of virtual sessions to discuss the progress made through collective efforts with partner organizations to integrate nurturing care for early childhood development as part of health systems in Eastern and Southern Africa. The first 2-hour virtual convening was conducted on 22 September 2020 and focused on what lessons have been learned integrating nurturing care into the routine work of community health workers (CHWs) and what should be focused on going forward.

A pre-convening survey on the status of CHW nurturing care services and systems highlighted a number of issues that informed the discussions during the meeting. Some of the key considerations raised by respondents included recognition of the importance of:

  • the community health platform;
  • testing before going to scale;
  • ongoing training opportunities;
  • supportive supervision;
  • community health worker links with the health system and communities; and
  • the need to be realistic in our approaches.

Four breakaway discussions took place during the meeting, centered around four key themes that would help to inform future directions. These included:

  1. CHW roles in promoting responsive caregiving, play and stimulation;
  2. What works to strengthen CHW skills and service delivery;
  3. Institutionalizing nurturing care as part of CHW roles;
  4. How has and will COVID-19 impact the nurturing care work CHWs do?

These discussions highlighted prominent considerations related to national policy and guidelines, finances and human resources, training and professional development, service delivery, supervision and mentoring, and data for monitoring and evaluation purposes.