The My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria 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.
However, every licensed service provider is legally required for health and safety to:
- take all reasonable steps to promote the good health and safety of children enrolled in the service; and
- take all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents and the spread of infection among children enrolled in the service; and
- take all reasonable steps to ensure that the premises, facilities, and other equipment on those premises are kept in good repair; and maintained regularly; and used safely and kept free from hazards; and take all reasonable steps to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to deal with fires, earthquakes, and other emergencies. (Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, 46(1)
Regulations and licensing criteria
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The definition of an early childhood education service
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 services must comply with the regulations and licensing criteria to operate and receive government funding.
Licensed early childhood education services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names including:
- Kindergarten / Kindy
- Te Kōhanga Reo
- A’oga Amata
- Day care
- Early learning
- Nursery school
- Rudolf Steiner
- Home-based ECE
- In-home care
- Family daycare
- Hospital-based services / Hospital playrooms
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.
- If you are concerned about hygiene, you can ask the Ministry to request that the service receive a health report.
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
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