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

HS11 Hazard management

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and Safety practices criterion 11

      Equipment, premises and facilities are checked on every day of operation for hazards to children. Accident/incident records are analysed to identify hazards and appropriate action is taken. Hazards to the safety of children are eliminated, isolated or minimised.

      Consideration of hazards must include but is not limited to:

      • cleaning agents, medicines, poisons, and other hazardous materials; 
      • electrical sockets and appliances (particularly heaters); 
      • hazards present in kitchen or laundry facilities; 
      • vandalism, dangerous objects, and foreign materials (e.g. broken glass, animal droppings); 
      • the condition and placement of learning, play and other equipment; 
      • windows and other areas of glass; 
      • poisonous plants; and 
      • bodies of water.

      Documentation required:

      A documented risk management system.

      Rationale/Intent:

      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children by ensuring that services have a mechanism to assess and address environmental hazards in an ongoing way.

      Amended May 2016

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      A key aspect of promoting the health and safety of everyone in the home-based setting is hazard and risk management.

      A hazard is a situation or thing that has the potential to cause death, injury or illness to a person.

      Risk is the likelihood that death, injury or illness might occur when a person is exposed to a hazard. Risks must be managed by taking action to eliminate them, and if that is not reasonably practicable, minimising or isolating them. Eliminating a hazard will also eliminate any risks associated with that hazard.

      It is important that the service provider and educator assesses and understands the hazards and risks and hazards that are relevant to the environment of each home. To start this assessment there is a sample list of Potential Hazards [DOC, 156 KB].

      Water temperature is one of the most common hazards educators will need to manage in the home setting. An educator should never let a child come in contact with water until it has been checked by hand.

      Any potentially harmful substances or materials must be made inaccessible. This will include cleaning products and medicines, but may also include face, body and/or hair products used by other members of the family.

      Hazards and risks must also be managed on any excursion outside the home. See HS14 for more guidance.

      In order to meet this criterion services can use a daily check sheet. Any hazards found should be documented and eliminated, isolated or minimised.

      Supervision

      Supervision is an essential component of hazard and risk management in a service. Supervision must be active and focussed.

      The type of supervision required depends on the layout of the premises, activities being undertaken, equipment being used, the ratio of adults to children, and the number, ages and needs of children.

      Direct, close and constant supervision by teachers, educators and kaiako will be required if an activity includes an element of risk. For example, climbing, cooking, using ropes, cords or tools of any kind or activities near water.

      Ensuring children do not have unsupervised access to hazardous equipment such as ropes, cords and tools is a key aspect of supervision. Access to any hazardous equipment must be closely monitored.

      Teachers, educators and kaiako should guide children on how to use equipment appropriately and safely.

      Knowing children’s interests and abilities will assist teachers, educators and kaiako to anticipate children’s play. Anticipating what children might do next will help teachers, educators and kaiako support children if challenges or difficulties arise, and intervene if there is potential danger. To ensure risk is minimised or eliminated, teachers, educators and kaiako should guide children’s behaviour and approach to play when necessary.

      If an activity poses a risk, teachers, educators and kaiako will use their professional judgement to ensure that the right kind of supervision can be provided. If close supervision cannot be provided for an activity which requires it, then teachers, educators and kaiako should encourage children to modify their activity, or defer it until the appropriate level of supervision can be provided.

      Teachers, educators and kaiako should have regular conversations about how play is supervised in their own setting.

      There is a supervision criterion which all home-based services must meet. Refer to HS34 for requirements and guidance.

      Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA)

      Services must comply with the standards set in the licensing criteria as well as the requirements of the HSWA and its regulations. Additional guidance about the HSWA is available for early learning services.

      Documentation guidance

      Your hazard and risk management system is likely to be made up of two main processes:

      1. Documented daily hazard checks – inside and out
      2. Regular risk review – your risk register should be updated whenever new information comes available, and reviewed on an annual basis.

      Keep the hazard and risk checklists for the current year and the preceding year.

      Below are some additional sources of information for support around risk management:

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Consider a sequential approach to hazard and risk management. For example:

      1. Identify hazards and risks.
      2. Assess the likelihood and impact of identified risks.
      3. Respond to hazard or risk – what will be done, when, by whom?
      4. Monitor and review hazard and risk management system and practices.

      Issues to consider in developing a hazard and risk identification and management system to ensure hazards are assessed and addressed in an ongoing way are:

      • How hazards and risks will be identified?
      • How processes for updating the identification of hazards and risks on a regular basis will be updated?
      • If a hazard is identified, how it will be eliminated, isolated or minimised? When will it be done? Who is responsible for this?
      • What opportunity is there for educators, teachers and kaiako to contribute to hazard and risk management systems, processes and practice?
      • How will visitors to the service be informed about identified hazards?
      • How is the maintenance of premises and equipment documented, managed and budgeted for? 
      • How are maintenance issues communicated to the person responsible or governance committee for any repairs or replacement?
      • How are the service’s hazard and risk management checklists reviewed and used to inform the service’s management and practice, eg supervision, maintenance, repairs?