The Programa Cidades Amigas das Crianças (Child Friendly Cities Programme) in Portugal was launched in 2015 by the Portuguese Committee for UNICEF. The initiative aims to contribute to the realization of children’s rights in the country and is designed to encourage adoption of public policies that promote the well-being of all citizens, and in particular, children. It also intends to promote favourable conditions for the healthy development and participation of children in the life of the community.
The rights-based and participatory approach of the initiative and concerted action of all the stakeholders is meant to bring about positive change in the organizational culture and services of the participating municipalities and in the lives of children living there.
The Portuguese Committee for UNICEF accepts applications to the programme annually. As of July 2022, 23 municipalities, ranging in size from cities to small towns, belong to the Programme network encompassing more than 420, 000 children.
The process of gaining child-friendly city/town recognition includes six main stages.
Stage 1 – Application
Municipalities that are interested can apply to join the Programme through three steps:
- Fill in the online form available on the website;
- Fill out the online checklist available on the website;
- Attach to the form a letter of intent and commitment signed by the Mayor.
Stage 2 – Formal joining the Programme
If the application is accepted, a Protocol of Collaboration is signed, which includes the obligations set out in the Programme.
Stage 3 – Planning
In the six months following the signature of the Protocol, the municipality must submit information to the Portuguese Committee for UNICEF which includes:
- The Mechanism for the Coordination of the Programme locally;
- Local Strategy for the Rights of the Child;
- Annual Local Action Plan.
At this stage, the municipality has the status of “Child Friendly City Candidate” and adherent to the national network.
The approval of the Local Strategy for the Rights of the Child and the Annual Local Action Plan by the Portuguese Committee for UNICEF, foreseen in this phase, does not imply the recognition of the municipality as a Child Friendly City.
During this period, the Portuguese Committee for UNICEF supports participating municipalities in their efforts by providing guidelines and technical assistance, through toolkits and workshops as well as through individual support.
Stage 4 – Evaluation
After 12 months of implementation of the Annual Local Action Plan, the municipality must submit a Report containing:
- Evaluation of the previous year (12 months of intervention);
- The Annual Local Action Plan for the following 12 months.
This process is repeated annually during the four years of the Local Strategy for the Rights of the Child. Throughout the process, the Portuguese Committee for UNICEF provides specialised training in Children’s Rights, monitoring and evaluation, among other themes.
Stage 5 – Recognition
Recognition is granted to the municipality after a technical analysis of the Evaluation Report, in particular the targets and a positive evaluation of the of the results, showing concrete changes in the lives of children in the municipality.
The results should be measured against the baseline values defined in the Annual Local Action Plan.
Stage 6 – Renewal
At the end of each four-year cycle, in order for the recognition to be renewed, the municipality may restart the process by submitting
- A new letter of intent and commitment signed by the Mayor of the Municipality;
- A new Local Strategy for the Rights of the Child;
- A new Annual Local Action Plan.
The information to be presented by the municipality should reflect the experience and recommendations of the previous cycle.
© UNICEF Portugal
Pop. under 18: 1,782,000
23 municipalities (11 of which are recognized)
Number of children reached: 420,000