Child-Friendly Municipality model

Photo: Jussi Hellsten

We want Helsinki to be a child-friendly city where each child and young person has the right to safe growth and development. Helsinki commits to promoting non-discrimination, equality and human rights in all its operations. We strengthen involvement and interaction in all operations of the city.

The City of Helsinki is involved in UNICEF’s development work for a child-friendly municipality. The Child-Friendly Municipality work is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and it promotes the realisation of the rights of the child in the municipality. Every child is valuable and the rights of the child belong to all children.

The Child-Friendly Municipality work involves all the city’s divisions and the City Executive Office. In 2022–2024, the action plan approved in spring 2022 will be implemented. Children and young people have an important role in this work. Children and young people are also represented in the Child-Friendly Municipality coordination group. The group also includes elected representatives and representatives from organisations.

Based on the rights of the child

Many important matters concerning children and young people are implemented by the municipality. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a human rights treaty that applies to all persons under the age of 18. UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Municipality model promotes the realisation of the rights of the child and implements the National Child Strategy in municipalities.

The Child-Friendly Municipality model is used to
  • identify areas of the rights of the child that need to be developed by the city
  • define what the city should do to ensure that the rights of the child are implemented as well as possible, and
  • systematically monitor the progress of the set goals.

With the help of the operating model, Helsinki has mapped out the current state and set five goals based on the findings:

1. Those working with children and young people, such as early childhood educators, teachers, youth services and child welfare workers, receive continuing education on the rights of the child.
  • Awareness of the rights of the child is disseminated in the city’s divisions and various working groups. In addition, it is ensured that the work is part of the city’s financial and operational planning.
  • The possibility of including a section on the rights of the child in the continuing education and know-how development plans of the divisions is to be investigated.
  • An information package on the rights of the child is to be produced for elected officials to be included in the portal for elected officials.
  • Material produced with children and young people and their feedback is utilised as educational material. Children and young people also serve as instructors. The rights of vulnerable children and young people is considered in one educational section.
2. In order to support the introduction and systematic implementation of the child impact assessment, the city operations make use of clear guidelines.
  • A city-wide child impact assessment developer group is to be established and a situational picture of the models applied by the divisions is to be created. This work takes into account the work done nationally and examines the existing national child impact assessment models and publications on the topic.
  • A city-wide child impact assessment model is to be created for use in decision-making and budget preparation. If possible, the model also includes a tool for monitoring the use of child impact assessment.
  • The child impact assessment model is to be integrated into the city-level impact assessment model for decisions, the budget preparation guidelines and the handbook for those preparing decisions.
  • Those involved in the decision preparation process and financial and operational planning are given training in the use of the child impact assessment model.
  • The Youth Council provides its views on the creation of the model and is invited to the training sessions. The suitability of the child impact assessment model for those in a vulnerable position is ensured.
3. Feedback collection on the city’s services is child-friendly, regular and systematic.
  • The current status of feedback collection and processing is to be investigated in cooperation with children and young people, taking into account the rights of children, vulnerable people and UNICEF’s criteria for feedback collection (multi-channel collection, availability, accessibility, importance of dialogue).
  • Appropriate pilots for collecting and processing feedback are to be selected, implemented and assessed.
  • A follow-up plan is to be drawn up to develop the collection and processing of feedback.
4. The city’s services for children combat bullying and promote a sense of community. Children’s emotional and interaction skills are promoted in their growth environments.
  • Awareness of people working in early childhood education and upper secondary level about the forms of bullying and the guidelines for tackling it is increased by means of communication.
  • Competence of those working with children and young people and of leisure activity providers is strengthened with the help of training in order to prevent and tackle bullying. Situations raised by children and young people which in their opinion require adult intervention are taken into account.
  • Emotional and interaction skills are systematically strengthened in basic education.
  • Children and young people serve as experts in training and training contents, as well as in communication. Different kinds of child groups are taken into account.
5. The sense of security of children and young people in urban spaces is strengthened by developing interaction.
  • A common understanding and situational picture is created about the experiences of safety and insecurity of children and young people in different urban spaces.
  • Different kinds of interaction methods are piloted with children and young people in the urban renewal areas. The pilots also focus on establishing what kinds of urban spaces evoke experiences of insecurity. Cooperation groups and organisations from each area also take part in the work.
  • Solutions are sought on the basis of the pilot experiences and models are created for interaction, in particular to prevent insecurity in the urban space.
  • Children and young people take part in the pilots. It is ensured that vulnerable groups of children are included in the pilots.

Organisation of the Child-Friendly Municipality work in Helsinki

The Child-Friendly Municipality coordination group convenes approximately four times a year.

Chair of the coordination group:

Mikko Vatka
Director of Youth Affairs
Tel. +358 9 310 71252

Unicef coordinators:

City Executive Office
Stina Högnabba
Special Planner
Tel. +358 9 310 42525

Culture and Leisure Division
Pirjo Mattila
Development Specialist
Tel. +358 9 310 89122

Education Division
Elina Rautiainen
Project manager
Tel. +358 9 310 22148

Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division
Mia Mäntymaa
Development consultant
Tel. +358 9 310 72924

Urban Environment Division
Maria Hyövälti
Landscape architect
Tel. +358 9 310 21346