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

The UNICEF USA Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) provides a child rights framework for building child friendly cities and communities. CFCI 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 first cohort in the United States to implement the CFCI process, in partnership with UNICEF USA, includes: Decatur, Georgia; Houston, Texas; Johnson City, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Prince George's County, Maryland and San Francisco, California.

To support the process, 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.

UNICEF USA CFCI Framework for Action

The framework consists of two pillars: 

  1. Goals and results to be achieved

  2. Strategies for achieving these goals and results

Inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UNICEF USA CFCI Framework for Action provides the following goals and strategies to protect the safety, health and happiness of every child and young person ages 0 to 18:


Local governments strive to achieve and measure their success as a child-friendly community in five priority areas: 

  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

UNICEF USA CFCI strategies 

The UNICEF USA CFCI rests on two pillars of strategies to achieve goals and results for children:

Community building
  • developing sustainable mechanisms for meaningful and inclusive child and youth participation

  • increasing child rights awareness and capacity development

  • encouraging child and youth projects, campaigns and civic actions

Child-friendly governance
  • establishing a coordinating unit for children, such as a Children’s Cabinet

  • appointing advocates or ombudsmans for children

  • implementing child-responsive budgeting 

  • advocating for child-responsive policy-making

  • supporting child-sensitive urban planning

  • preparing child-responsive disaster emergency response

For more information, resources and case studies about the global UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative, join the CFCI Facebook Group, email advocacy@unicefusa.org or visit childfriendlycities.org.