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. 


HS27 Medical assistance and incident management

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 27

      All practicable steps are taken to get immediate medical assistance for a child who is seriously injured or becomes seriously ill, and to notify a parent of what has happened.

      Documentation required:

      1. A record of all injuries, illnesses and incidents that occur at the service. Records include:
        • the child's name;
        • the date, time, and description of the injury, illness or incident;
        • actions taken and by whom; and
        • evidence that parents have been informed.
      2. A procedure outlining the service's response to injury, illness and incidents, including the review and implementation of practices as required.

      The criterion aims to uphold the health and safety of children by ensuring that children who fall ill or are injured are given appropriate care.

      Amended May 2016

  • 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.

      Injuries, illnesses and incidents can be a part of early childhood experiences. When a child becomes seriously ill or suffers a serious injury while in the care of the service, services must get medical assistance. This would usually be ringing for an ambulance or taking the child to see a doctor. It is always better to seek medical assistance if you are unsure of the extent of the injury or the seriousness of the illness than to risk the consequences of doing nothing.

      Notifying parents

      Services must notify parents as soon as possible of the event, and be able to provide as much detail as possible about what happened, when, and what actions the service took. It is vital to have up-to-date contact information for the parents on children’s enrolment records.

      When notifying parents of an accident or incident in person, think about the sensitivity of the situation and the need for privacy away from the presence of children and other parents.

      When informing parents by phone, ascertain where possible whether they have other adult support to deal with the event, e.g. support to look after other children, transport etc.

      Notifying other agencies

      Some injuries, illnesses and accidents must be notified to specified agencies under separate legislation. Services should familiarise themselves with their wider obligations to notify these agencies.

      The Ministry of Education must also be notified of such incidents. See HS34 – Incident notification to the Ministry of Education.

      An injury and incident procedure flowchart is available for services to use.

      Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, ECE services must notify WorkSafe New Zealand if there is a notifiable event. Services should ensure that their health and safety practices are aligned to their obligations under other legislation.

      Documentation Guidance

      It is important that ALL injuries, illnesses and incidents are recorded, even if only minor injuries are sustained. This is for two reasons:

      1. A very minor injury can sometimes become more serious after a period of time, e.g. a minor graze becomes infected and a child requires hospitalisation.
      2. A pattern or trend in the occurrence of minor injuries may lead to awareness of the need to make changes at the service.

      It does not matter who witnesses the incident – if the service is told of an incident by a visiting adult or parent this must be documented in the same way as if an educator witnessed the incident.

      The record of injury, incident or illness that services must keep will also be of assistance to paramedics or the child’s doctor if further assessment of the child’s health is required.

      Regional Public Health has an illness register template that can be used(external link). You should keep the injury/illness/incident record for two years from the date of the incident.

      For any injury/incident that is notifiable under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), it is a requirement to keep the records for five years from the date of the incident.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Some issues to consider are:

      • If a child needs to go to hospital or the doctor, who will go with them and how will care be ensured for the other children at the centre? Ratios must still be met at the centre, and there must be a first aider remaining at the centre.
      • At what point are the child’s parents/caregiver first notified about an accident or illness?
      • Children’s allergies, particularly allergic reactions to medication and medical conditions that are caused by allergies.
      • Maintaining a list of allergies for children attending the centre, and ready access to the list and relevant medications in the event of an allergic reaction.
      • What do you do if the illness is contagious?
      • There may be costs associated with calling an ambulance. Centres should plan in advance for this contingency.