Today, more than half of the world’s children are growing up in cities. By 2030, up to 60 percent of the world’s urban population will be under 18-years old. Yet, children are often invisible to urban planners, developers, and architects when creating city-wide policies that impact transportation, air and noise pollution, and health and well-being.

In our Brookings report on the steps cities can take to scale playful learning, we called out the need for coordination within and across city agencies to support the design and integration of playful learning efforts into new and existing projects. This was the topic of discussion in our recent Playful Learning Landscapes (PLL) City Network meeting with teams from Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Tel Aviv.

1. Building capacity within the system is critical, especially when cross-sector coordination is required.

2. It is valuable to create champions on the ground, as well as at every level in the system, for sustainability of the program.

3. Finding an entry point through existing initiatives or structures can help build important connections, especially in the early stages of aligning across municipalities.

4. Alignment and coordination across city agencies doesn’t happen overnight and is a continuous process.

Tel Aviv’s journey to becoming a family-friendly city that prioritizes early childhood started in 2016 and is captured in a case study from Princeton University. The study documents the transformation of a city that once showed little interest in its youngest residents to one in which every city agency embraces early childhood as a strategic priority. “I think it’s an ongoing work in progress because people leave their post after you have invested in them,” shared one of the city network members. “How do you constantly build your champions and connect with your champions?”

Read the full article about building cities around children by Helen Shwe Hadani and Shwetha Parvathy at Brookings.