Child Friendly Cities Initiative

When we make our communities better places for children, we make them better places for all.

About UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative

UNICEF's Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) was launched globally in 1996 to protect children’s rights in an increasingly urbanized and decentralized world. The initiative brings UNICEF together with local stakeholders to establish safer, more just, equitable, inclusive and child-responsive cities and communities around the world. Since its inception, CFCI has been adopted in over 3,000 municipalities in more than 40 countries.

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 the voices of youth in local governance and decision-making.

Through this flexible, dynamic, child rights-focused framework, communities are improved as neighborhoods become safer, schools and health systems function better and infrastructure is strengthened for all citizens. Thus, a "Child Friendly City" is a city that is fit for all. 

On August 12, 2020,  International Youth Day, an annual observance to celebrate young peoples' voices, actions and meaningful, equitable engagement, UNICEF USA launched the Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the United States. Houston, TX; Johnson City, TN; Minneapolis, MN; Prince George's County, MD; and San Francisco, CA have partnered with UNICEF USA in this effort as the first cohort of cities and the first county 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 Houston, Johnson City, Minneapolis, Prince George's County and San Francisco will conduct a situation analysis of child well-being in each city/county. Based on these findings, they will implement an action plan that prioritizes the best interests of children and youth within their local policies. CFCI will empower leaders to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and system racism on children, work to combat discrimination and elevate their voices in local governance and decision making.

Is your city child-friendly?

If you want 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. To learn more and connect with our national CFCI Learning Community, join our Facebook Group or send us an email.

Check out the video below to see what cities around the world are doing to ensure their communities are child-friendly!

Here is what mayors across the country are saying about UNICEF USA's Child Friendly Cities Initiative

Former Gresham, Oregon Mayor Shane Bemis, Former Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Youth Involvement Taskforce, talks about why he is a champion for UNICEF's Child Friendly Cities Initiative:

Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Texas speaks on his commitment to children and ensuring their voices are heard:

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 www.childfriendlycities.org.