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 and elevate their 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 57 countries.

On Aug. 12, 2020, International Youth Day, UNICEF USA launched the Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the United States. 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, two-year process toward recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City or County. 

A Child Friendly City takes actions to improve the welfare of kids — while also creating pathways for their voices to be heard

In pursuit of recognition as a Child Friendly City, government officials and community leaders — including children and youth in the six locales — are conducting a situation analysis of child well-being in each city or county. Based on these findings, and with guidance from UNICEF, the communities will implement an action plan that prioritizes the best interests of children and youth within their local policies and elevates youth voices in local governance and decision making. 

On Aug. 11, 2022, Houston became the first city in the United States to be designated a UNICEF Child Friendly City Candidate, formally adopting their CFCI local action plan. Minneapolis became the second U.S. candidate city on Feb. 14, 2023. 

Is your city 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?

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 the CFCI Facebook Group or email advocacy@unicefusa.org.

Watch the UNICEF USA Child Friendly Cities Initiative in action

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks about Houston's journey to becoming a UNICEF Child Friendly City:

Following extensive research about children's well-being in Johnson City, Mayor Joe Wise discusses developing an action plan with the community to put children's rights at the forefront of city policy and operations:

UNICEF USA Ambassador Jeremy Lin explains why the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative is critical to protecting and improving the lives of children, especially in the face of a pandemic:

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.