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. 


HS32 Inappropriate material

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 32

      All practicable steps are taken to protect children from exposure to inappropriate material (for example, of an explicitly sexual or violent nature).


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety and wellbeing of children by ensuring that pornographic or violent material (electronic games, DVDs, websites, magazines, etc) is not available to children.

  • 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.

      Censor classifications can be used as a guide, however material should be listened to or previewed to check for suitability before sharing it with children.

      What may be regarded as not objectionable under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act may, nevertheless, be inappropriate and harmful to young children given the impact of the medium in which the publication is presented and the age of the children to whom the publication is available.

      Supervising children using computers at the service is essential. If a centre has access to the internet (either for use with the children or in the office) consider password protection and the use of parental locks.

      Exposure to objectionable material may occur inadvertently through normal and legitimate searching activities or by unsolicited email delivery.

      Educators should be aware of safe searching techniques and provide information to children on how to react and deal with unsolicited, inappropriate material.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      • What can children see or hear when they are at the service? Consider areas designated for adults as well (e.g. offices and staffrooms), as children may have access to them at times.
      • What kinds of images can children see in magazines and other print materials available for collage activities (e.g. ‘sealed sections’ and photo spreads appearing in some women’s magazines)?
      • How would staff respond when children bring inappropriate material from home?
      • Do children have access to the internet when at the centre? How can their learning be supported while keeping them safe?

      Consider the use of software programmes available to support safe searching techniques.