UNICEF first piloted the Child Friendly Cities Initiative in Ukraine in 2009-2010. In 2017, the Government of Ukraine requested that UNICEF re-establish the initiative, noting its importance in the context of decentralization reform that is being undertaken in the country. UNICEF Ukraine has included the initiative as one of its priority programmes set to launch in 2018.
The Child Friendly Cities Initiative in Ukraine has six characteristics:
- It is a transformative philosophy that aims to ensure that local leaders and communities are thinking and acting for and with children.
- It is an advocacy approach that creates healthy competition among municipalities to advance the realization of children’s rights.
- It is an indirect way to position a municipality as a place that respects child rights. Progress made by the municipality to this end is recognized through a special accreditation process.
- It is a direct way to ensure that all children, even the most marginalized, are visible in the community.
- It creates an environment where all children reach their full potential and boost their development by participating in decision making and innovative solutions.
- It is a process that helps to promote the most difficult reforms for disadvantaged children, such as inclusive education and de-institutionalization.
A group of local experts has been established to support UNICEF Ukraine in launching the initiative. Currently they are working on finalizing the Road Map and setting up a steering committee and coordination group. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed in April 2018 between UNICEF and government line ministries as well as other partners to facilitate collaboration in implementing the initiative. Specifically implementing partners include:
- Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services;
- Ministry of Social Policy;
- Ministry of Youth and Sports;
- ‘Association of Ukrainian Cities’, an association of local governments in Ukraine;
- The ‘Association of consolidated territorial communities’, an association of local self-government bodies;
- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Ukraine;
- The ‘National Youth Council of Ukraine’.
Following this, a communication campaign will call for expressions of interest from municipalities wanting to participate in the initiative. Under the guidance of UNICEF Ukraine, the experts will select municipalities to pilot the initiative and support the development of MoUs between them and UNICEF. They will then support the municipalities in conducting a situation analysis of the status and wellbeing of children and underlying causes within their jurisdictions and in developing an action plan with budget allocation to address these.