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

Designing and building – step-by-step guide

We suggest you work through the following steps:

  1. Develop indoor and outdoor plans in consultation with your architect, teachers, community and your local Ministry of Education office.

Read the early childhood service design guide section for design ideas for everything from bathrooms to sandpits.

Read the renovating an existing building or building a new service section for a checklist to help you consider a range of issues when renovating an existing building or choosing a site and building a new centre.

  1. Contact your regional health protection officer (HPO) and discuss your indoor and outdoor plans with them. You can search for your regional HPO using the Ministry of Health website. HPO's may provide a 'new centres pack' that will provide valuable information.
  2. Think about whether or not you will provide food to the children attending. Under the Food Act 2014, centres providing food service to pre-school children may be subject to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ National Programme 2. This may impact on the layout of the kitchen and laundry facilities at your centre. 
  3. Ensure that building plans comply with the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004, as well as relevant sections of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008. Looking at the licensing criteria for your service type will be helpful as it provides more detail about the standards required to meet the regulations.
  4. Before plans are finalised,contact your local Ministry of Education office for feedback. Apply for resource consent (if you haven’t already) and a building consent. You must have building consent and resource consent before commencing work on the building.
  5. When you have building consent and resource consent, we suggest you employ a project manager and tradespeople (if you haven’t already). It is recommended that you always use tradespeople and professionals who are licensed building practitioners.

Ministry of Health website

Building (Forms) Regulations 2004

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Contact your local Ministry of Education office

Licensed building practitioners

Ministry for Primary Industries