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

Checklist for renovating an existing building or building a new service

The checklist below is designed to help you consider a range of issues when renovating an existing building or choosing a site and building a new service.

  • Climate
    • Consider wind direction and wind chill factor in the proposed outdoor area.

      • Will sun get into the building and onto the section?
      • Will there be some shaded areas? What trees are there?

      Refer to the Sunsmart Schools guidelines for shade.

  • Road access
      • Is there potential for safe parking, safe access and disabled persons access?
      • Are there suitable safe places outside the building that can be used as assembly areas for staff and children during an emergency evacuation? Care should be taken that the location and nature of the assembly areas keep children safe from harm.
  • Site elevation
      • Is the site relatively level, to ensure direct access from indoor to outdoor play areas and usable outdoor space?
  • Resource Management Act consent
      • Check with your local council to ensure you understand all Resource Management Act 1991 requirements before purchasing a section or building.
  • Health issues
      • Check the building for hazards such as lead-based paint and asbestos.
      • Check the site for any potential hazards – for example, leachate, long-life spray, chemical storage or methane gas build up in landfills.
      • Contact your regional public health organisation for advice on health issues.
  • Indoor space
    • Check the ability of the existing building or building plans to meet the minimum requirements for licensing. Some of the things you will need to think about are:

      • a space for undisturbed rest or sleep
      • office and staff space
      • bathroom, toilets and nappy change area
      • disabled toilet
      • disabled persons access (including slopes, width of doors and passageways)
      • kitchen that is inaccessible to children without adult assistance or supervision
      • locker area/storage of children’s belongings
      • a welcoming arrival area
      • the ability to see children easily from inside when they are outdoors
      • separate dining (desirable)
      • at least 2.5 square metres (+10%) of play space per child
      • the ability to provide a range of educational activities
      • the ability to provide a safe and stimulating environment for the children who may attend
      • generous amounts of storage for resources
      • sanitary facilities
      • art preparation and clean up area.
      • The premises and facilities licensing criteria provide more details on these requirements.
  • Outdoors
    • Check the ability of the existing outdoor space or building plans to meet the minimum requirements for licensing. Some of the things you will need to think about are:

      • good drainage in all weathers
      • sufficient area of safety surface
      • large open areas
      • a variety of surfaces, including grass and hard surfaces
      • easy visibility
      • smooth indoor-outdoor flow
      • at least 5 sq m of activity space per child
      • the ability to provide a range of educational activities.

      The premises and facilities licensing criteria provide more details on these requirements.

  • Areas that work well together
    • Consider the following:

      • Keep children's sleep rooms away from main play areas. These can be noisy. Sleep rooms should not be in cold or very hot locations.
      • Offices can work well near the entrance area (to see visitors arrive, etc).
      • Centrally located kitchens work well.
      • Double doors that open directly to the outdoor area ensure a good flow.
      • Infant and toddler areas work well close to their sleep area, nappy change area, and with direct access to the outdoors.
      • Infant and toddler areas work better if located close to a kitchen area, or have their own kitchenette (for warming bottles, etc).
      • Main play areas should be directly alongside the outdoor area.
      • Consider covered roofing and verandahs between the indoors and outdoors for wet day activities. You may also want to consider shelter from prevailing winds.

      If you’re renovating, check with your architect to find out which walls are load bearing. Consider removing walls with no purpose.

      There may be costs in the setting up stage. However, a well-designed environment, which assists with good supervision, will allow teachers to work more effectively with children in the years to come.

      The Ministry of Education may require extra staffing in hard-to-supervise buildings or premises. This may result in extra cost in the long term.