When we make our communities better places for children, we make them better places for all
The UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) brings UNICEF together with local stakeholders to establish safer, more just, equitable, inclusive and child-responsive cities and communities.
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, combat discrimination and elevate youth voices in local governance and decision making.
Through this flexible, dynamic, child rights-focused framework, neighborhoods become safer, schools and health systems function better, infrastructure is strengthened and communities are improved for all citizens.
The initiative launched globally in 1996 to protect children’s rights in an increasingly urbanized and decentralized world. Since its inception, CFCI has been adopted in over 3,000 municipalities in over 40 countries.
On Aug. 12, 2020, International Youth Day, UNICEF USA launched the Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the United States. Boulder, Colorado; Decatur, Georgia; Houston, Texas; Johnson City, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Prince George's County, Maryland and San Francisco, California represent the first cohort to partner with UNICEF USA to implement an ambitious, multi-year process toward recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City or County.
Houston became the first city in the United States to be designated a UNICEF Child Friendly City Candidate on August 11, 2022, formally adopting their CFCI local action plan. Minneapolis became the second U.S. Child Friendly City Candidate on Feb. 14, 2023.
On August 12, 2023, the three-year anniversary of the pilot launch, following successful implementation of their Action Plan and an independent evaluation, the City of Houston became the first officially recognized UNICEF Child Friendly City in the United States.
A Child Friendly City takes actions to improve the welfare of kids — while also creating pathways for their voices to be heard
To gain recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly Community, government officials and community leaders — including children and youth — in the seven locales engage stakeholders and conduct a situation analysis of child well-being in their respective city or county. Based on the findings, and with guidance from UNICEF USA, the communities set out to implement an Action Plan that prioritizes the best interests of children and youth within their local policies, programs and services.
Is your community child-friendly?
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?
Let UNICEF USA help ensure that every child who lives in your community can answer a resounding ‘Yes!’ to all the above.
Watch the UNICEF USA Child Friendly Cities Initiative in action
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks about Houston's journey to becoming the first UNICEF Child Friendly City in the United States:
Members of the Minneapolis Youth Congress share how CFCI has helped them reimagine their city as part of the celebration of the launch of the Minneapolis CFCI Local Action Plan:
Children and young people in Boulder, CO share what they want their city to look like as they launch their youth-led Child Friendly Cities Initiative:
For more information, resources and case studies about the global UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative, join the CFCI Facebook Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit childfriendlycities.org.