Our work in Germany began in 2012, with six pilot municipalities. All of the tools and methods developed for the program were tested by these pilot municipalities, then further refined and optimized.
Since 2014, municipalities across Germany with 5,000 or more inhabitants have been eligible to take part in our program. With an ever-growing number of participating municipalities, an extensive network of Child-Friendly Communities has already been established. By 2018, the first municipalities to participate had already embarked on the extension of the program, and will thus go through a second cycle of the program with the aim of developing more child-friendly communities.
Our mission is to promote the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) at the municipal level. To this end, we help cities and communities across Germany to raise awareness of the UNCRC and to improve their services, planning processes, and structures in accordance with the Convention.
The initiative is based on international criteria established by UNICEF. Municipalities wishing to gain ‘child friendly’ status have to work to meet these criteria via a four-year program that contains certain core elements but is also individually adapted to each context.
In collaboration with children and young people, participating municipalities develop an action plan containing binding measures, which allows them to be officially recognised as ‘child friendly.’
Many cities and communities are already on the way to acquiring this status. They know that including young people in such processes is not only crucial to child-friendly local development, but also to raising the attractiveness of any area.
Cities and communities that wish to participate in the initiative and attain ‘child friendly’ status have to commit to a four-(to five-)year programme, in which we support and guide them every step of the way. The program includes certain core elements, but is also adapted to the particular conditions of the participating municipality.
In order to implement the program in an effective way across multiple departments, the municipality sets up a local steering committee.
Goals and tasks of the steering committee: The steering committee consists of municipal employees drawn from all administrative departments. Members of the administration are included, as well as politicians and representatives of civil society. Young people should also be represented on the committees.
The steering committee provides support to the municipal employees working on the project over its entire duration, and cross-departmentally coordinates the formulation and implementation of an action plan. Committee members come up with policy proposals and discuss goals and areas of focus.
Since the beginning of 2017, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has been supporting our association in the development of a new component: incorporating children’s rights into the day-to-day work of municipal administration. This new component represents a substantial expansion of the existing Child-Friendly Communities project.
Children’s rights play a role in almost all areas of municipal activity, and are thus an exemplary interdisciplinary administrative task. But promoting the UN Convention and translating it into the practical, everyday tasks of local government is a challenge. Because of this, we pursue a variety of approaches in providing support to local authorities throughout this process. In addition to publishing articles and information resources on the topic, we offer municipalities a complementary series of workshops. We assist in mapping out cross-departmental structures and establishing administrative procedures that are grounded in children’s interests and rights.
After the three-year implementation of the action plan, municipalities can extend their participation in the program for a further three years, during which time they are able to display the accreditation. In the second phase, a further action plan is drawn up and implemented by the municipality, which builds on the measures included in the previous action plan. Of course, our association and its experts continue to offer support.