HISTORY OF THE CYFC PROJECT
The concept of child and youth friendly cities or communities has, by now, become relatively well known globally with numerous civil society actors, non-governmental organizations, academics, and municipal and national governments taking up the cause. However, the seeds for CYFCs actually grew out of SCY’s earlier work throughout the 1980s and 90s. The Child Friendly Housing Project (1995) addressed the needs of children in multi-family housing by applying a child and youth friendly lens. This groundbreaking work provided a practical guide for professionals working on housing issues while incorporating the voices of children and youth.
This work was presented at the UN Habitat II Conference in 1996 and provided insight into the value of using a child and youth friendly lens. At the conference, it was declared that cities need to be made livable places for all and that “the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy habitat, a democratic society and of good governance.” This led to the CYFC Project.
In response to this interest, SCY developed a series of toolkits to help communities looking to create CYFCs. When this work began in 1998, there was little available to assist communities looking to increase child and youth friendliness. There was also recognition that the earlier work on child friendly housing was good for brand new communities but did little to address the issues of established communities.
The first toolkit developed was the Child and Youth Friendly Communities Toolkit that was designed for groups to work together to assess and plan actions for improving their communities for children and youth. The toolkit covers a variety of domains in which communities could take action.
Following this, other toolkits were developed looking at particular groups of children and communities. The Child and Youth Friendly Community Early Years Toolkit was adapted to focus specifically on the 0-6 age group. The Aboriginal Early Years Child and Youth Friendly Communities Toolkit adapted the original toolkit to provide culturally relevant and specific information for Aboriginal communities across British Columbia.
Next, in recognition of the fact that local government can play a critical role in developing CYFCs, SCY developed the Municipal Toolkit for Child and Youth Friendly Communities. In contrast to earlier toolkits, this toolkit was designed as a guided process in which SCY would work closely with a partner municipality to build CYFCs.
In 2013, the Child and Youth Friendly Communities Toolkit was launched as this website in order to make it more broadly available to those working on child and youth friendliness. Extensive work was undertaken to update the toolkit, provide additional links to resources and best practices, and create a user-friendly interface. Additionally, ‘Technology’ was added as a domain given the nature of how technology is significantly influencing the lives of children and youth.