Child Friendly Cities and Communities

The overall goal of the Child Friendly Cities and Communities (CFC) Assessment and Monitoring Project is to find ways to support communities and municipal governments to improve the living conditions of children through the development of new participatory methods for collecting data with children of all ages.

This project is designed to raise the quality of planning for children in cities by providing resources for communities and municipal governments to better assess and monitor conditions for children. While local governments have access to some quantitative indicators of the fulfillment of certain rights, such as sanitation, water access and vaccination rates, only a limited range of indicators are available for the majority of children’s rights in any city.  Furthermore, this data is typically not accessible to the residents of communities. The project involves the development of highly participatory tools for communities of children and adults to use in assessing community conditions as the basis for planning, action and advocacy. The project also includes a set of child friendly city governance tools for municipal government agencies to use in reviewing how well their governance structures and processes support families and children.

Example of the CFC Children’s Tool: The methods are graphic based enabling children who cannot read to participate in the assessment.

The Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) was launched in 1996 in relation to the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) to make cities livable places.” It advocates the adoption of governance approaches and participatory urban management that promote the realization of the rights of the youngest citizens. Hundreds of cities all over the world have declared themselves to be ‘child friendly cities’ since then and UNICEF has provided a website of resources to help them initiate the concept.

A major weakness of most this initiate was that there seemed to be very little community involvement in the creation of child friendly cities. Children’s participation was largely limited to the establishment of city –level councils.  To address this problem a partnership was formed between UNICEF and Childwatch International from 2008 to 2011 to develop assessment and monitoring tools, to be coordinated by the Children’s Environments Research Group of the City University New York with The Innocenti Research Center of UNICEF.  Following seed funding from Childwatch International, the Bernard van Leer Foundation and IRC/UNIEF funded the program.

The Child Friendly Community Assessment Tools are designed for communities to use to assess and monitor their “child friendliness”. They are designed to be easily adapted to other local contexts and to be used by a variety of actors including children themselves, caregivers, community providers and municipal authorities. The Child Friendly City Governance Tools are designed for municipalities to use to assess the child friendliness of their governance structures and processes.

CERG developed these tools and coordinated the pilot testing of the tools with UNICEF IRC. The Institute for Philippine Culture at the Ateneo de Manila University and the Instituto Paulo Montenegro of IBOPE, in Brazil, then pilot-tested the tools and became important partners in the subsequent improvement of the toolkit.  The tools were subsequently field tested in the Dominican Republic, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, France, Italy and Spain, Brazil and the Philippines. All of the documents and materials for the Child Friendly Cities and Communities Assessment Toolkit are available online from Child Friendly Cities.

The next and final phase of the project involves an assessment of the impact of using the tools on community planning, action and advocacy.  NGOs, UNICEF or other international and local organizations continue to use the tools in cities and communities around the world.

Please let us know if your organization uses the CFC Assessment Toolkit, by contacting Roger Hart or Pamela Wridt.  We are continuing to improve the toolkits and would appreciate feedback to enhance their utility for a wide range of stakeholders.