Number of Children and Who Counts as a Child in the Maximum Licence Number

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The maximum number of children allowed to attend, and when a child is counted or not counted as being in the ratios for the licence size is specified in the regulations.

Home-based service

A home-based service can be licensed to have up to a maximum of 80 children attending at any one time. A child is defined as any person under 6-years who is not enrolled at primary school. An educator’s child who under 6-years and enrolled at primary school does not count in the maximum allowable number of children attending.  

The homes that the licensed service places children in are restricted to a maximum of 4 children per educator.  An educator must not have more than 2 children aged under 2 years in the same home at the same time, unless they are siblings.  And, if there are more than 3 siblings aged under 2 years in the same home at the same time, then there must be 2 educators in the home caring for them.  

Early childhood centre maximum number of children

For the purpose of licensing a child is defined in an early childhood centre as every person under 6-years.  This includes any children of the service owner, teachers, and other staff – whether or not the child is enrolled at school.  

In terms of the number of children, an early childhood centre can be licensed to have attending at any one time up to a maximum of:

  • 150 children aged 2-years or older.
  • Up to 25 under 2-years
  • Up to 75 children less than 2-years old on condition that:
    • The centre provides exclusively for children under two-years old.
    • The Ministry of Education is satisfied the children will be adequately cared for. 
  • Up to 150 children of any age (under and over 2-years) on condition that:
    • No more than 75 children are under 2-years.
    • The Ministry of Education is satisfied the children will be adequately for and that the service is organised to reflect the different needs. The standard of care only needs to be ‘adequate’ and the service able to show that it can provide adequate care, e.g., child is kept fed, warm, safe and clean. Parents however may seek to have more than the legally required level of adequate care, e.g., attentive and respectful care.
  • 16 children overnight.

Playcentre – additional information on number of children

To receive government funding Playcentres are required by the Ministry of Education to have no more than 30 children in attendance at any session, and all children under the age of two and a half years old must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

Failing to meet minimum standards

The Ministry of Education needs to know:

  • If you are concerned children’s needs are not being met.
  • If you are concerned a service is not meeting a minimum legal requirement.

READ MORE: How to make a complaint and your options.

CAUTION: This page and the information here is provided as part of the My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria 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

Number of Children and Who Counts as a Child in the Maximum Licence Number. Published in the My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education Services, prepared by Dr Sarah Alexander and Warwick Marshall.

Last reviewed: 20 November 2022


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