Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 15 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as premises used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care, or children enrolled at a school being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6—

  1. by the day or part of a day; but
  2. not for any continuous period of more than 7 days.

Centre-based ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names – for example, Playcentres, early learning centres, Montessori, childcare centres, Kindergartens, crèches, preschools, a’oga amata, Rudolf Steiner etc.

These centres are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the centres meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

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

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 2.1 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in April 2021.


HS24 Room temperature

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 24

      § Rooms used by children are kept at a comfortable temperature no lower than 16°C (at 500mm above the floor) while children are attending.


      The criterion aims to uphold the wellbeing of children. Note that the wellbeing of adults at the service is covered by the Health and Safety in Employment legislation.

  • 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.

      Rooms used by children must be kept at a minimum of 16°C at 500mm above the floor from the beginning of operating hours. This includes the sleep room/area, toilets and nappy changing area.

      It is important to note that this is a minimum requirement. Services may choose to keep their centres at a higher temperature.

      WHO guidelines state a minimum of 18°C for residential living spaces. The criteria requirement is lower than this to allow for temperature fluctuations due to doors opening to allow children to move between indoor and outdoor spaces.

      Draughts should be minimised, especially at ground level where infants lie and crawl and children play.

      Having a centre too warm could lead to lethargy in children and adults.

      The Guidance for PF12- Heating, lighting, noise and ventilation provides options for efficient heating to ensure that rooms can be kept at a comfortable temperature, while ensuring the safety of children.