Children and Youth Friendly Church Award

Introduction – take a moment to imagine …

You’ve just moved into a new area with your young family. You’ve left behind your family, friends and the church you went to regularly. You’d like to start meeting new people and find a church that will cater for you and your children. You don’t know many, if any, people in the area, so can’t seek advice from them, and your previous church doesn’t know anywhere in your new area. You don’t fancy turning up at the church on a Sunday morning for the first time and finding that there is nothing for the children to do.  Wouldn’t it be good to find that your nearby church has the Children and Youth Friendly Church sign prominently displayed? 

They have a bright blue and white plaque next to the main entrance telling you that behind the doors there are people waiting to welcome you and your children into their midst.

Your church could be that church! The chances are, if you have youth and children’s work already in your church, you can probably tick lots of the boxes already. Even if you don’t have any children and youth connected to your church you could demonstrate your commitment – you never know when children and young people are likely to walk through your door. This could be a good way to make sure that when that happens you truly are ‘Child Friendly’!

The Children and Youth Friendly Church replaces the former Child Friendly Church Award as of July 2020.

As one church said that has achieved the previous award:

“This scheme requires effort. Some of the actions have been small and easy to implement, and others have cost the Church money, time or commitment. Either way, the ultimate value is beyond measure as we seek to share the good news within our community”

Why not make a commitment to this scheme a priority within your church?

A Children and Youth Friendly Church award means that a local congregation:

  • has a comprehensive and shared vision for Children’s and Youth Work
  • provides good opportunities for the voices of children and young people to be heard
  • takes seriously and responds to feedback from children and young people
  • provides opportunities for children and young people to be involved in planning, organising and delivering child friendly church services
  • makes suitable provision for under 5s in church
  • provides groups and organisations to help nurture children and young people
  • takes Safeguarding, Health & Safety and First Aid seriously

How do we get started on the Child Friendly Church Award?

To start the process, you need to register your interest with Tom Hackett, your Children and Youth Development Officer and request a Children and Youth Friendly Church Scheme pack. It contains information about how the Scheme works and includes a tick box self-assessment questionnaire to be filled in by your church. However, this is not just an exercise in ticking all the “yes” boxes – it’s a process and is more about recognizing the importance of children and young people in the life of the church, and working to improve how we welcome them, and share ministry with them.

Background information

The original Child Friendly Church Award scheme was created after the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool carried out a review of its life and work.  The resulting report made a keynote recommendation that parishes ‘welcome and integrate children and their families into the worshipping life of their church.’  Their conclusion was that it is desirable that churches advertise to the community that they take the provision for the young seriously.  Churches inviting children in this way should provide a quality service which should be accountable to the church leadership and meet with certain set criteria.  A new scheme was introduced to encourage churches to put children and families on their agendas, to work towards certain targets and obtain a certificate and an award to be displayed as appropriate.  

Having seen the scheme, the URC Assembly Youth and Children’s Work committee felt it was a good idea and have adapted it for use within the United Reformed Church.  “Towards a Charter for Children in the Church”, introduced at General Assembly 1990, challenges churches to become fully inclusive in their work with children.  This scheme offers a way to measure progress towards that goal. The URC version of the Child Friendly Church Award scheme began in 2006 and was reviewed and updated in 2012.  In July 2020 the original scheme was made more flexible and inclusive and relaunched as the Children and Youth Friendly Church Scheme. 


Last updated 26 December 2022