Press Release

UNICEF USA Announces Child Friendly Cities Initiative In The United States

Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Prince George’s County comprise the first cohort of municipalities implementing the pilot initiative to create safer, more equitable communities and elevate youth voices

NEW YORK (August 12, 2020) – Today, on International Youth Day, an annual observance to celebrate young peoples’ voices, actions and meaningful, equitable engagement, UNICEF USA is proud to announce the launch of the Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) in the United States. Houston, TX; San Francisco, CA; Minneapolis, MN and Prince George’s County, MD will serve 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.  

Originally created in 1996, UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative uses a child rights-based framework to build a roadmap for establishing 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 40 countries. UNICEF USA applauds these municipalities for their commitment to using this framework to build better communities for children. 

“This year has seen so many challenges that have deeply impacted children and families, and also shown the important role that local governments play in supporting them,” said UNICEF USA President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis. “As an organization that has dedicated nearly 74 years to protecting and supporting children around the world, UNICEF USA is proud to use this moment to help build better communities for children here in the United States alongside Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Prince George’s County.” 

In its pursuit of recognition as a Child Friendly City, government officials and community leaders in Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Prince George’s County will conduct a situational analysis of child well-being in each city. Based on these findings, the cities 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 systemic racism on children, work to combat discrimination and elevate their voices in local governance and decision-making. 

"Houston is proud to be an inclusive and equitable city focused on strengthening community resilience for the most vulnerable residents, our youngest children. Children under 18 comprise 25% of Houston's total population, with children under five accounting for 7.8%. We want them to feel welcome, safe, and supported to thrive in any environment," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "As part of the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative, we will continue to protect and empower young people in every aspect of our community."

“I was in a group from Minneapolis that convened with others from around the country in May of 2019 to launch a Child Friendly Cities initiative in the U.S.,” said City of Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant. “This effort builds on decades of work in Minneapolis focused on the well-being of young people. It seems only natural that Minneapolis is among the first to take official action with UNICEF USA.”

Through the CFCI Framework for Action, the cohort cities and county will identify objectives under five goal areas focusing on supporting children and young people, including: safety and inclusion, children’s participation, equitable social services, safe living environments and play and leisure.

"San Francisco is committed to creating a city that is welcoming and safe for children, youth, and their families,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “It has become clear over the past few months how much of a toll COVID-19 has taken on young people and families, and it's important that we keep working together to create policies that support our residents now and in the future. We are excited to join this cohort to share what we're working on and to learn from other cities in the U.S.”

“We are Prince George’s Proud to become the first County in the United States to be part of this critical initiative to build an inclusive community for our children,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “Our children represent the future of our County, State and nation, and we are fully committed to elevating their voices and empowering them to help build a brighter future for every resident as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information about Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the Unites States, visit

To take action and encourage cities across the United States to become more child friendly, visit


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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit

For more information, contact
Nina Marie Costa | | 212.922.2581