The Ville amie des enfants (VAE) (Child Friendly City) initiative was launched in 2002 in partnership with the French Mayors’ Association. The aim was to raise local leaders’ awareness on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and how it could be used to improve the lives of children at the local level.
The initiative started with 12 cities and the adaptation of the original Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) framework to local needs. A highly demanding application process was also set up and a volunteer network helped in spreading information on the new initiative to encourage cities to apply and be part of the VAE network, which has a number of benefits, including sharing resources and good practices.
In order to be recognized as a child-friendly city and become part of the network, a city must submit an application package that includes:
- A “dashboard” of quantitative data revealing the situation of children in the city. This key aspect of the application is meant to encourage the city to diagnose the main challenges facing children in the applicant city.
- A list of city-wide local public policies that implement child rights.
- A completed questionnaire with a list of interventions, current and planned, in ten key thematic areas that address the issues identified in the “dashboard”. For each area, the city is asked to describe the interventions, the rationale behind them, how children are involved in their design, how they are implemented and evaluated, and the impact that they have had.
- A draft annual work plan to be implemented jointly by the city and UNICEF’s local committee, support letters by the mayor and UNICEF’s local committee and VAE focal points’ contact details in the city.
Once submitted, the application is reviewed. Based on the quality of the application, the city is granted child-friendly city recognition for a period of six years and a partnership agreement is signed between the city and UNICEF. During the six years, the title can be revoked if the city does not respect its commitment and if it launches a non-child-friendly public policy.
Since its launch, the initiative has grown and includes cities that are very different in size, population, density, and financial capacity. Today, the VAE initiative includes 231 cities and 9 inter-communalities. While the initiative is based on thematic issues derived from the original building blocks, particular focus is placed on child participation, non-discrimination and education.
© Fred Thomas, Tcgraphite
Children playing in a school playground.