The UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) brings UNICEF together with local stakeholders to establish safer, more just, equitable, inclusive and child-responsive cities and communities.
CFCI uses the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework to help local governments prioritize the needs of children and young people and elevate their voices in local governance and decision making. Through this flexible, dynamic, child rights-focused framework, neighborhoods become safer, schools and health systems function better, infrastructure is strengthened and communities are improved for all citizens.
The initiative launched globally in 1996 to protect children’s rights in an increasingly urbanized and decentralized world. Since its inception, CFCI has been adopted in over 3,000 municipalities in 57 countries.
On Aug. 12, 2020, International Youth Day, UNICEF USA launched the Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the United States. Decatur, Georgia; Houston, Texas; Johnson City, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Prince George's County, Maryland and San Francisco, California represent the first cohort to partner with UNICEF USA to implement an ambitious, two-year process toward recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City or County.
In pursuit of recognition as a Child Friendly City, government officials and community leaders, including children and youth in the six locales are conducting a situation analysis of child well-being in each city or county. Based on these findings and guidance from UNICEF, the communities will implement an action plan that prioritizes the best interests of children and youth within their local policies. CFCI also aims to empower leaders to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to combat discrimination and elevate youth voices in local governance and decision making. On August 11th, 2022, the City of Houston became the first city to receive designation as a UNICEF Child Friendly City Candidate by formally adopting their CFCI local action plan.
To find out, just ask the kids who live there. Do they feel safe? Can they go to a doctor when they are sick? Do they like their school? Are there plenty of parks and playgrounds where they can go and meet up with friends? Do people listen to them when they talk — their teachers, parents, coaches? Do they feel — most of the time — like they get their fair share?
UNICEF USA wants to help you ensure that every child who lives in your community can answer a resounding ‘Yes!’ to all the above.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks about Houston's journey to becoming a UNICEF Child Friendly City:
Following extensive research about children's well-being in Johnson City, Mayor Joe Wise discusses developing an action plan with the community to put children's rights at the forefront of city policy and operations:
UNICEF USA Ambassador Jeremy Lin explains why the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative is critical to protecting and improving the lives of children, especially in the face of a pandemic: