With guidance from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Child Friendly City Initiative was created to urge communities in the United States to develop action plans that ensure local policies are prioritizing the best interests of children and youth.

The Child Friendly City Initiative 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.

To earn a UNICEF Child Friendly City designation, a city must:

  • Recognize the city's advancement of child rights
  • Affirm the city's commitment to eliminate discrimination against children through local government policies and actions
  • Require inclusive and meaningful child and youth participation in local decision-making through mechanisms such as youth councils
  • Indicate a thorough assessment of the community was conducted, a detailed local action plan for children was created, and that much of the plan was implemented.
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Since those guidelines were established, Houston has been the only city in the United States to earn a Child Friendly City designation, which happened on August 11, 2022. However, now a second U.S. city has earned the designation, it's located in Minnesota.


Four years to the day after joining forces with UNICEF's Child Friendly Cities Initiative,  Minneapolis has learned it has been officially named a Child Friendly City.

What Steps Did Minneapolis Take To Earn This Designation?

According to UNICEF, the Minneapolis Health Department and Youth Coordinating Board worked collaboratively with city leaders, government agencies, service providers, nonprofits, and youth and families to work towards becoming a Child Friendly City. Working with youth and families was vital.


One of the first steps taken was to create a local action plan. The City of Minneapolis's plan highlights four top priorities:

  1. Emergency management and preparedness planning. This was made a priority in the wake of three recent events, the Francis Drake Hotel fire in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020 and the resulting racial reckoning.
  2. Youth voice in decision-making spaces. Minneapolis set out to increase youth participation on city boards, commissions, and committees.
  3. Community safety. In October 2023, young people conducted interviews with over 100 of their peers for a Community Safety Report produced by the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB). The report was the first step in providing recommendations to the city regarding important community safety work.
  4. Child rights education. In 2023, Minneapolis expanded its popular Reach Out and Read Minnesota initiative, distributing free books to children and their parents via hospitals and health clinics in Hennepin County. Some of the books introduced the concept of children's rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: every child, no matter where they are born or where they live, has the right to food, water, and shelter, to go to school, to be free from violence, to breathe clean air and more.

You can click the button above to read the full report on actions Minneapolis took to earn the Child Friendly City designation. UNICEF notes that while earning the honor is important, everything is not perfect and there is still ongoing work that needs to be done.

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