Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

The Education Act 1989 S310 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 Act 1989 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, 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, 719 KB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in May 2016.


Licensing Criteria Cover

HS31 Child protection

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 31

      There is a written child protection policy that meets the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. The policy contains provisions for the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect, and information about how the service will keep children safe from abuse and neglect, and how it will respond to suspected child abuse and neglect.

      The policy must be reviewed every three years.

      Documentation required:
      1. A written child protection policy that contains:
        1. provisions for the service’s identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect;
        2. information about the practices the service employs to keep children safe from abuse and neglect; and
        3. information about how the service will respond to suspected child abuse and neglect.
      2. A procedure that sets out how the service will identify and respond to suspected child abuse and/or neglect.

      Child protection policies support children’s workers to identify and respond to vulnerability, including possible abuse and neglect.

      Amended 26 February 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.

      Centres must have a child protection policy that meets the Children's Act's requirements.

      The policy must:

      • contain provisions on the identification and reporting of neglect and abuse, and
      • be written, and
      • be reviewed every three years.

      To be helpful, the policy should contain definitions of neglect and abuse so that staff can apply these consistently when needed.

      Centres must make the policy and information about its practices available to parents as required by criterion GMA1 - Parent access to information.

      Documentation guidance:

      The Oranga Tamariki website has a publication Safer organisations, Safer children [PDF; 1.06] that provides advice on good practice to help organisations draft high quality child protection policies and review their procedures.

      The guidelines include a review tool to help services identify gaps in current policies, information about what to include in a new policy, as well as example policies including a policy used in an early childhood education setting.

      The policy needs to be consistent with advice provided by CYFS that can be found in the publication called "Working together to keep children and young people safe [PDF, 3 MB]".

      Centre staff require guidelines and opportunities for training to further develop their knowledge and understanding of:

      • the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect
      • roles and responsibilities around record keeping and reporting
      • responsibilities to children
      • limitations of their role.