Starting a centre-based ECE service

This is a guide for service providers interested in establishing a licensed early childhood education (ECE) and care centre. Please make sure you read the whole document before taking further steps to establishing your ECE service.

Licensing Criteria Cover

Applying for a licence

  • Probationary licence
    • To start the application process, contact your local Ministry office. They will be able to explain what is involved and provide an EC1 Application Form. As part of completing this form you will need to complete a Statutory Declaration about whether you and those involved in the management and governance of the service are fit and proper to hold a licence to operate an early learning service. You will also need  to provide a number of documents about the management of the service, proposed staffing, the premises you intend to operate from and curriculum delivery.

      Once your EC/1C is received and complete, your local Ministry of Education office will contact you to set a date for your licensing visit. The Ministry uses the application form, the documentation you sent and the licence assessment visit to determine whether your service is ready to be granted a licence. Please note, the Ministry of Education has 30 working days to grant or refuse to grant a probationary licence. The 30 days begins after the receipt of a completed application form including all associated documentation such as Code of Compliance, interim Fire Service approval and the health report.

      Set up your indoor and outdoor centre environment so that it is fully ready for children and their families to attend.

      Carry out your own pre-licence check using the Ministry’s licensing assessment tool (EC/3C). Contact your local Ministry of Education office for a copy of the assessment tool.

      Ensure the service provider contact person and key staff are available during the Ministry’s licence assessment visit.

      You need to allow at least 5 working days after the licence assessment visit for the Ministry to prepare and send out the licence. The probationary licence from the Ministry of Education must be displayed on the wall before you can operate the service.

  • Full licence
    • A full licence assessment must be carried out by the Ministry within 12 months of gaining a probationary licence. During the full licence check, the Ministry of Education will assess policies, practices and curriculum implementation in action.