Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as a premises that is 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 who are being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6 years by day (or part of a day) but 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, 1.8 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 


HS24 Room temperature

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 24

      § Rooms used by children are kept at a comfortable temperature no lower than 18°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

      The following examples are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      Temperature in rooms used by children

      The temperature in rooms must be no lower than 18 °C at 500mm above the floor when used by children. Services should ensure that the heating is turned on (if required) before children arrive for the day to give time for the rooms used by children to heat up to 18 °C.

      Temperatures are kept no lower than 18 °C

      To ensure the temperature in rooms used by children is kept no lower than 18 °C, a service must have a means of checking the temperature regularly at 500mm above the floor. This might include a thermometer that can measure ambient room temperature attached to the wall at 500mm above the floor, or a portable thermometer.

      Services will need to manage fluctuations of temperature in rooms used by children eg caused by the opening and closing of doors to the outside space, so that the temperature in rooms used by children is kept no lower than 18 °C.

      Rooms used by children at a comfortable temperature

      18 °C at 500mm above the floor is a minimum requirement. World Health Organisation guidelines, including those for vulnerable persons such as young children, have been considered in setting this minimum.

      Services may choose to keep a higher indoor temperature but should ensure that is comfortable for children. Having a service temperature that is too warm could lead to lethargy.

      Other licensing criteria that interact with HS24

      PF2(external link), PF12(external link), PF13(external link) and C9(external link).