Licensing criteria for home-based ECE services

The Education Act 1989 S309 defines home-based ECE services as the provision of education or care, for gain or reward, to fewer than 5 children under the age of 6 (in addition to any child enrolled at school who is the child of the person who provides education or care) in:

  1. their own homes
  2. the home of the person providing education or care
  3. any other home nominated by the parents of the children.

These services are licensed in accordance with the Education Act 1989 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the services meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help services meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 541 KB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in November 2016.

Licensing Criteria Cover

Further Home Based Regulatory Guidance

Application of the 1:50 person responsible ratio

Operational guidelines: Regulation 44 (1)(d)(ii)

These guidelines will help home-based ECE services understand how to meet the requirements of regulation 44 (1)(d)(ii).

Regulation 44 (1)(d)(ii) requires that, at all times while children attend the service, there is 1 person responsible for every 50 children.

This means that every licensed home-based service must have one person responsible, often called the coordinator, for every 50 children attending at any one time. For services with 51-80 children attending there must be two persons responsible.

Note: Regulation 44(4) sets out the service types which are excluded from being defined as teacher led services, for the purposes of the qualification requirements in regulation 44 and schedule 1 only.

Establishing a new home-based service

Any service applying for a licence to operate a home-based ECE service must provide evidence of anticipated or expected enrolments with their application.

Where there is evidence of less than 50 anticipated enrolments, the licence maximum will be set at 50 child places (or less, as required in the circumstances). The service provider will be required to name one person responsible for this licence.

Where there is evidence of greater than 50 anticipated enrolments, and/or that there will be at least 51 children attending at any one time, the service provider must show evidence of meeting the requirement for two persons responsible.

Existing home-based services

All service providers take responsibility for ensuring all licensing requirements are met, including the 1:50 person responsible requirement.

Operational guidelines: Regulation 28(2)(c)

These guidelines will help home-based ECE services understand how to meet the requirements of regulation 28(2)(c). They were developed in consultation with representatives of the home-based ECE sector and replace previously published information on this topic.

Regulation 28(2)(c) requires a home-based service coordinator to take all reasonable steps each month to observe each child participating in the service while that child is receiving education and care.

This means coordinators are expected to have monthly face-to-face contact with all educators and children enrolled in the service. Observations of the child should primarily occur during a child’s enrolled hours in the home in which the child is enrolled for education and care. This ensures that, in addition to assessing the provision of education and care, the coordinator can check the home is a safe environment that is being maintained to meet licensing standards. The best way to achieve this is by visiting the home regularly.

Note: Regulation 28(2)(c) must be read in light of other regulations and licensing criteria that further describe a service’s or coordinator’s responsibilities (notably regulations 28(2)(b) coordinator to visit each educator at least one per month; 28(3): 28(2) doesn’t apply during any period when the service is closed for a fortnight or longer; 3(c): definition of person responsible as coordinator and their responsibilities; 43: Curriculum standard; 44(1)(d)(i): the person responsible must supervise children and educators at all times children attend the service; and 47: Governance and Management standard).

What happens during a coordinator visit to observe a child

The coordinator observes each child at the service focusing on each child as an individual. The coordinator considers how the child interacts with the educator and the other children, the delivery of education and care by the educator, and the specific learning and developmental needs of the child. They note the educator’s practice and offer them support as needed in relation to that child.

For this reason, it is important that the coordinator visits are scheduled for each child during their normal days and hours of enrolment, while under the care of their regular educator, and when the child is awake and engaged in the daily life of the service.

The educator will continue to actively supervise all children present during the coordinator visit.

Coordinator visits outside children’s normal enrolment hours

Coordinators cannot observe children outside their normal enrolment hours. Therefore the coordinator’s hours of work must align with the enrolment hours of the children under their supervision.

Regularity of coordinator observations

The coordinator must take all reasonable steps to observe each child once every month.

How services meet the intent of "all reasonable steps" will be determined by their specific contexts. As a general guide, "reasonable" steps for the coordinator to take to observe a child each month might include:

  • The coordinator prearranges a date and time to visit a child during the child’s normal hours of enrolment when they are likely to be awake.
  • On the morning of the scheduled visit, the coordinator phones the educator to check the child is attending.
  • If the child is present, the scheduled visit goes ahead.
  • If the child is absent or access to the home is prevented (for example, by severe weather conditions), the coordinator reschedules the visit for another day in that week or the following week. It is good practice to keep records of visits and any reason for rescheduling.

Dealing with persistent child absence

If the rescheduled visit does not occur due to another absence by the child or access issues, a visit should be arranged for the following week. Occasionally a visit cannot take place.

However, if a child is persistently absent, and the coordinator has taken all reasonable steps to observe the child without success, then the service provider should discuss with the child’s parents whether enrolment at the service is still needed.

Observations during holiday periods

Coordinators can find it difficult to meet this monthly observation requirement during the Christmas and summer holiday period when children’s attendance at a service can be irregular. However, if the service is operating over the summer break (generally late December to mid-January), the coordinator must continue to take all reasonable steps to observe each child once during the weeks when they are in attendance on either side of the holiday period. If the service is closed for three weeks over the Christmas holidays, the coordinator would be expected to observe each child in either December or January.

Sleeping children

If the child is unexpectedly asleep when the coordinator arrives, the coordinator can use the time while at the house to ensure other regulatory requirements, such as health and safety practices, are being met. Another visit to the child must be rescheduled for the following month.

Where coordinator visits take place

Coordinator visits must take place primarily in the home in which the child is enrolled for education and care. This applies to all homes, including those in rural and remote locations.

There are some occasions in which it is acceptable for the coordinator to observe a child in an alternative location.

Coordinator visits outside the home setting

Sometimes there can be value in observing a child and educator away from the home setting, for example at playgroups. However, services must note the following conditions:

  1. Coordinators must not conduct more than two observations outside the home per twelve-month period, and these should not occur two months in a row; the coordinator must visit the child in the enrolled home setting in between. Observations outside the home can occur in addition to the home visit for any given month.
  2. The coordinator and educator must agree in advance there is a sound pedagogical reason for observing a child outside the home.
  3. The off-site setting must be appropriate for children; the educator must be able to deliver education and care to both the child being observed and the other children in their care, while at the same time engaging with the coordinator for professional development support purposes. A cafe, for example, would not be suitable. If the observation is to take place at a playgroup, neither the educator nor the coordinator can run the playgroup. It must be run by someone else.

Documenting coordinator observations

The coordinator must be able to provide evidence of both having visited children at the home-based services under their supervision, and that the visits were planned.

The coordinator should keep detailed notes of their observations of the child. Any regulatory issues they note during the visit must also be recorded.

If a visit has not been achieved, the coordinator should document an explanation for this and a description of their other attempts to see the child.

The rationale for observing a child outside the home must be recorded.

Documentation can take a variety of forms, including some or all of the following: the coordinator’s schedule of planned visits (spreadsheet, diary etc); the coordinator’s notes taken during the visit; and a written account of the visit in the child’s profile book or in a note to the parents.

Service provider documentation for Regulation 28(2)(c)

The home-based ECE service provider is responsible for ensuring their coordinators meet the requirements of Regulation 28(2)(c). They should have a documented policy or procedure that sets out their expectations of the coordinator in meeting the regulations and how they will be monitored.