How We Work

UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative in Action

Only when the rights, voices, needs and priorities of children and young people are integrated into public policies, programs and decisions will communities become truly child-friendly.

To put this into practice, UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative supports and enhances the work of local communities to create a holistic action plan for children and young people ages 18 and under and ensures they have a voice in the issues affecting their lives.

The Child Friendly Cities Initiative provides a child rights-based framework for building child-friendly cities and communities. The framework consists of two pillars: goals and results to be achieved and strategies to achieve these goals and results.  

CFCI Goals

Local governments and their partners identify objectives under the umbrella of the following five goal areas from the CFCI Framework for Action, striving to protect the right of every child and young person, from 0-18 years old, to a safe, healthy and happy childhood.  

1. Safety and Inclusion: Every child and young person is valued, respected and treated fairly within their communities and by local authorities.

2. Children’s Participation: Every child and young person has their voice, needs and priorities heard and taken into account in public laws, policies, budgets, programs and decisions that affect them.

3. Equitable Social Services: Every child and young person has access to quality essential social services.

4. Safe Living Environments: Every child and young person lives in a safe, secure and clean environment​.

5. Play and Leisure: Every child and young person has opportunities to enjoy family life, play and leisure.


Our Strategies

UNICEF USA’s CFCI rests on two pillars of strategies cities to achieve demonstrated results for children within the scope of the CFCI goals for children: community building communities and child-friendly governance

Community Building

  • Sustainable mechanisms for meaningful and inclusive child and youth participation
  • Child rights awareness and capacity development
  • Child/youth projects, campaigns and civic actions

Child-Friendly Governance

  • Coordinating unit for children (e.g. Children’s Cabinet)
  • Children’s advocate/ombudsman
  • Child-responsive budgeting 
  • Child-responsive policy-making
  • Child-sensitive urban planning
  • Child-responsive disaster emergency preparedness and response

For concrete examples of how cities have applied the CFCI Framework around the world, visit

In addition to engaging Decatur, GA; Houston, TX; Johnson City, TN; Minneapolis, MN; Prince George's County, MD; and San Francisco, CA as its first cohort of pilot cities and first county to implement the CFCI process, UNICEF USA is also 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