United States of America
Child Friendly Cities Initiative
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; Minneapolis, MN; Prince George’s County, MD; Decatur, GA; Boulder, CO and Alton, IL have partnered with UNICEF USA in this effort as the first cohort of cities and the first county to implement an ambitious, two-three year process toward recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City or County.
In pursuit of recognition as a Child Friendly City or County, government officials and community leaders, including children and youth in partner communities have to conduct a situation analysis of child well-being in each city/county. Based on these findings, and intergenerational action planning, they will implement an action plan that prioritizes the best interests of children and youth within their local policies. Once the plan has been implemented, the city will undergo an independent evaluation of the plan’s implementation in order to receive recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City. As the CFCI framework is established and implemented, communities are improved, neighborhoods become safer, schools and health systems function better, and infrastructure is strengthened for all citizens.
This initiative draws on the strengths of existing local efforts across the United States to improve child well-being, while bringing to bear UNICEF USA’s ability to provide child rights expertise, convening power, research capabilities, a globally recognized brand, and a diverse network of dedicated volunteers to build a non-partisan movement in the U.S. to secure the rights of every child to a safe, healthy and happy childhood.
UNICEF USA facilitates ongoing collaboration and exchange among a cohort of CFCI municipal partners and other engaged municipalities through monthly CFCI Collaborative meetings and ongoing exchange among local leaders putting child rights into action in their communities.
On Aug. 9, 2023, upon the three-year anniversary of the CFCI launch in the U.S., Houston became the first recognized UNICEF Child Friendly City in the United States. On February 14, 2024, Houston joined Minneapolis as the second city to receive recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City in the United States.
Minneapolis officially recognized as a Child Friendly City, Sarah Ferguson, UNICEF USA, February 2024.
City of Houston recognized as first UNICEF Child Friendly City in the United States, Click2Houston.com, August 2023
Minneapolis aims to become UNICEF's first 'child friendly city' in U.S., Heidi Wigdahl, Kare 11, February 2023
UNICEF names Houston the first Child Friendly City candidate in the Country, Alfred Dozier, Houston Chronicle, August 2022
Amid crises, UNICEF USA launches program to help kids in the US, David Crary, AP News, August 2020
UNICEF USA Celebrates Two Years in the United States, Jennifer Sperber and Amber Stone, Forbes, August 2022
See UNICEF USA’s CFCI In the News page for local and national press on the CFCI pilot in the United States