The Lapsiystävällinen kunta (Child Friendly Municipality) initiative in Finland has been active since 2012 and is led by the UNICEF Finnish National Committee. As of January 2019, 19 Finnish municipalities are participating in the initiative. 13 of these have been recognized as child-friendly.
The Finnish CFCI builds capacity to help fulfil children’s rights. The initiative is also used to collect information and to build an evidence-base for other advocacy work within the National Committee. Participating in the initiative requires cross-sectoral cooperation within the municipality, while UNICEF acts as a ”critical friend” guiding the process.
The Finnish model was created with two key things in mind: Firstly, it has to be useful and suitable for all Finnish municipalities independent of their size, location or socio-economic structure; and secondly, it cannot require extensive staff allocations from the Finnish National Committee.
The initiative is based on 10 thematic building blocks. These blocks include: making children’s rights known; equality and non-discrimination; planning, evaluation and development of services; agenda-setting and influencing decision-making; civil society activities; peer and adult relationships; valuing children and childhood; strategic planning, coordinating mechanisms and child impact assessment; and wide knowledge basis.
In order to be recognized as child-friendly, municipalities must systematically aim for structural changes through cross-sectoral cooperation. Children must have a chance to participate, and citizens have to be informed on the process and the importance of child rights. After the two-year process, UNICEF evaluates whether participating municipalities have followed the model adequately. The recognition is then granted for two years, after which it can be renewed, if municipalities continue to follow the model.
© UNICEF Finland 2017 Hanna-Kaisa Hämäläinen
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