Helsinki has chosen development goals for its collaboration with the Child-Friendly Municipality. Helsinki was admitted into UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Municipality model in 2021. Five objectives were chosen after a mapping of the present status of administration and services for children.
The first development goal is to provide continuous education on children’s rights to individuals who deal with children and young people, such as early childhood educators, teachers, youth service workers, and child welfare employees. The second goal is to have clear rules in place in the city’s operations to assist the implementation and methodical execution of kid impact assessments.
The third development goal is for child-friendly, regular, and systematic feedback on city services. As the fourth development goal, city services for children help to avoid bullying and foster a feeling of community. Furthermore, developing surroundings foster children’s emotional and social abilities.
The fifth development goal is to improve children’s and young people’s safety in urban environments via interaction.
“In the mapping of the current state, we heard the views of children and young people and assessed the situation according to questions and indicator levels prepared by UNICEF after interviewing experts from different divisions of the city and those working with children. Helsinki has many things in a good order. We identified the challenges of knowing the rights of the child and the challenges of making an assessment of the impact on children. The consultation and participation of children and young people will be developed, and their feedback will also be important in understanding the impact of the activities. The prevention of bullying, emotional and social skills and the safety of urban spaces promote the attachment of children and young people to groups, communities and the opportunity to live, participate and grow up in a safe environment,” says Mikko Vatka, Director of Youth Affairs and Chairperson of the Child-Friendly Municipality Coordination Group.
“Children’s rights are human rights, and Helsinki must work for these rights every day. The child’s growth must be supported in order for the child to grow into a full member of society. Each municipality has the responsibility and obligation to ensure the safe growth and development of a child in its own area. This great model and its internal objectives are steps towards this common goal,” say Esra Arajärvi and Nella Salminen, members of the Helsinki Youth Council and the Child-Friendly Municipality Coordination Group.
The Child-Friendly Municipality model is a tool that assists municipalities in making the best decisions for children’s well-being in municipal administration and in children’s daily services. The approach assists towns in ensuring that the rights of the most vulnerable children are met.
The approach can assist the municipality identify which aspects of children’s rights need to be developed. The model also assists the municipality in defining what it should do to guarantee that children’s rights are implemented as comprehensively as possible in the municipality. Furthermore, the model enables the municipality to track the progress of the work in a methodical manner.
In Helsinki, children’s rights and well-being are already being promoted in all divisions and in collaboration with organizations and other actors. Helsinki’s work to promote well-being and health is founded on the ideals of human rights, equality, and non-discrimination. This value-based activity is reinforced by the Child-Friendly Municipality concept.