Becoming a Child Friendly City

Process to Be Recognized as a UNICEF Child Friendly City in the U.S.

UNICEF USA is partnering with Decatur, GA; Houston, TX; Johnson City, TN; Minneapolis, MN; Prince George's County, MD; and San Francisco, CA as the first cohort of cities and the first county to implement an ambitious two-year transformative process toward recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City or County

The exact process of becoming a UNICEF Child Friendly City will depend on the local context and will be influenced by factors such as the political environment, population size and available resources. Leaders across each pilot city and county, including young leaders, will work together through a CFCI task force to take the following key steps:

  1. Conduct a local situation analysis of child well-being, including children and young people in the process
  2. Based on the findings of the situation analysis, work across generations to develop a local action plan for children 
  3. Support youth and community-led projects 
  4. Implement the plan with relevant local stakeholders, including children and young people themselves
  5. Monitor and evaluate the results and adjust the plan as necessary

While each community’s version of the initiative may look different, for UNICEF USA to recognize a city as a “Child friendly City” it must meet the following minimum global criteria:

  1. Demonstrated results for children within the scope of several goal areas to ensure a comprehensive child rights approach
  2. Meaningful and inclusive child participation (e.g. through established mechanisms such as child and youth councils throughout all the phases of the CFCI cycle)
  3. Demonstrated dedication to eliminating discrimination against children and young people in policies and actions by the local government, including in CFCI

Throughout the process, UNICEF USA will provide the following:

  • Technical expertise
  • Convening power
  • The equity of a global brand
  • A diverse network of dedicated volunteers
  • Global and national networking opportunities 

CFCI recognition in the United States is not an accreditation model. Rather, it is a transformative process through which local governments and other stakeholders’ commit to advancing child rights; the process in each city will evolve and develop over time. CFCI is about improving children’s well-being, not creating perfect cities, and should never be considered an approval of the human rights situation of the city as a whole.

In addition to engaging its CFCI pilot cities and county, UNICEF USA is building a national CFCI Learning Community of city officials, subject matter experts and advocates to exchange resources and learning opportunities in how to put children first in local governance and decision-making. To learn more, join our Facebook Group or send us an email

For more information, resources and case studies about how cities around the world are taking part in UNICEF’s global Child Friendly Cities Initiative, visit

UNICEF also offers a free self-led course describing the core components and key steps to be taken for a city/community to be recognized as child-friendly by UNICEF here via Agora, UNICEF's global hub for learning.