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.
HS31 Child protection
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.
- A written child protection policy that contains:
- provisions for the service’s identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect;
- information about the practices the service employs to keep children safe from abuse and neglect; and
- information about how the service will respond to suspected child abuse and neglect.
- 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
- A written child protection policy that contains:
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 GMA2 - Parent access to information.
We’ve published a guide to the help you navigate the child protection policy requirements set out in the Children’s Act 2014. Download the guide.
The Safer Organisations, Safer Children [PDF, 1.1 MB] publication 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 Oranga Tamariki that can be found in the publication called "Working together to support tamariki, rangatahi and their familiy.whānau(external link)".
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.
The Ministry of Education, alongside Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand and Safeguarding Children, have developed a digital child protection resource specifically for the early learning sector. See the instructions below to access the resource.
- Go to Education Learning Management System using the following link https://training.education.govt.nz/(external link)
- Select Login with ESL
- Select Catalogue from the top menu
- Search for Child Protection
In order to access child protection training you are required to have an Education Sector Logon (ESL) as there is a formal acknowledgment of completion. To get an ESL account, please contact your organisation’s ESL Delegated Authoriser.
If you would like to know more about having an Education Sector Login (ESL) to access the Education Learning Management System please refer to - Education Sector Logon (ESL) | Applications & Online Systems(external link)
If you need assistance creating an ESL account, please ring the Education Service Desk on 0800 422 599 or email them on email@example.com