A City Platform for Children and Families

Strong cities are built on a foundation of strong families and empowered neighborhoods that support every child. Developed by NLC's Council on Youth, Education and Families and leading mayoral champions, the City Platform for Children and Families provides municipal leaders with a framework for taking action and making sustained progress on behalf of the children, youth and families in their cities and towns.

The City Platform for Children and Families calls on municipal leaders to set bold, measurable, locally-defined goals or targets in each of four areas to ensure that every child has:

  • Opportunities to learn and grow;
  • A safe neighborhood to call home;
  • A healthy lifestyle and environment; and
  • A financially fit family in which to thrive.

The Platform also identifies several essential strategies for developing a municipal agenda for children, youth and families that fosters effective and enduring change:

  1. Build or strengthen the "local infrastructure" for children and families.
  2. Promote effective city-school collaboration.
  3. Encourage and support youth voice, engagement, and leadership.
  4. Identify and implement policies or programs that reflect best practices.
  5. Set local goals or targets and then measure progress over time.
  6. Designate a lead staff person and/or a "point person" in the community.
  7. Learn from the experience of other cities and towns.
  8. Challenge the entire community to do more.

Learn how cities are using the Platform to guide local efforts on behalf of children, youth and families.

    Historical Background

    In 2004, members of NLC's Council on Youth, Education and Families (YEF Council) developed a statement on Strengthening America's Families: What Municipal Leaders Must Do.  The statement makes the case for municipal leadership on behalf of children and families, and emphasizes the high costs of inaction, which are reflected in individual lives, municipal budgets and prospects for city growth and revitalization.

    The statement formed the basis for the City Platform for Strengthening Families, a framework for local action developed by the YEF Council and endorsed by the NLC Board of Directors in December 2005.  This document describes an "essential infrastructure" needed for sustained progress and concrete action steps that can be taken by cities of any size in seven key issue areas.  One hundred cities adopted the Platform by mayoral proclamation or city council resolution.

    In November 2008, 26 prominent mayors issued a similar call to action, encouraging their peers to build on recent municipal innovations by setting and striving toward bold, measurable goals for child and family well-being.  More than 100 mayors signed on to this Mayors' Action Challenge for Children and Families.  Many cities have used both the Platform and the Challenge as a blueprint for comprehensive initiatives to strengthen families. 

    In 2012, the YEF Council and YEF Institute worked together to combine elements of each document into one cohesive City Platform for Children and Families that calls on cities to set ambitious goals and highlights the essential elements needed to successfully achieve them.

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