Regulations 2008 coverThe My ECE Guide to Regulations for Early Childhood Education Services.  
Prepared by Dr Sarah Alexander and Warwick Marshall.  
© My ECE  


Minimum legal requirements

The My ECE Guide to Regulations for Early Childhood Education Services brings together the main legal requirements for centres and home-based services that you need to know about. It does not include requirements for hospital-based services as these are few in number and have their own specific requirements. 

The minimum legal requirements detailed here are sourced from the requirements of most relevance to parents from the:

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.
Ministry of Education Licensing Criteria for ECE Services
Education and Training Act 2020 

All services must meet the standards as set out in the regulations and licensing criteria.  

The Ministry of Education has discretion to tighten, relax, or waive certain requirements in some cases and for individual services.  For example, it is likely that a service that is located in a high-rise building will have as a condition of being licensed a requirement to have more adults per number of children - to support quick evacuation at any time in case of an emergency. 

What are early childhood education services

Any premises used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being the children of the person providing the care) under the age of 6 must apply to the Ministry of Education for a licence to provide the service (there are some exceptions like registered schools and children's health camps).  Licensed early childhood education must comply with the regulations and licensing criteria to operate and receive government funding in return for providing care and education of children. 

Licensed early childhood education services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names including:

  • Home-based ECE
  • Montessori
  • Kindergarten
  • Te Kōhanga Reo
  • A’oga Amata
  • Playcentre
  • Childcare
  • Preschool 
  • Daycare
  • Early learning centre
  • Nursery school
  • Crèche
  • Rudolf Steiner 
  • Hospital-based services

Failing to meet any minimum standard

The Ministry of Education needs to know:

  • If you are concerned children’s needs are not being met.
  • If you are concerned a centre is not meeting a minimum legal requirement.
  • If you are concerned about hygiene, you can ask the Ministry to request that the service receive a health report.

Find out more about making a formal complaint here and your options. 

CAUTION: This page and the information here is provided as part of the My ECE Guide to Regulations for Early Childhood Education Services (The Guide).  The Guide does not purport to be a full and accurate interpretation of all statutory provisions relating to early childhood education services. While best efforts have been used in preparing this guide, no representations or warranties of any kind are made and My ECE assumes no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the content. Please note that the Government and Ministry of Education may change, update, or alter any of the requirements at any time.  Please help to keep the information on this page up to date by letting us know of changes that need to be made. Thank you!  Kia pai te rā

My ECE Guide to Regulations for Early Childhood Education Services (Centres and Home-based Services)
Prepared by Dr Sarah Alexander and Warwick Marshall

Last reviewed: 1 October 2022