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. 


HS33 Alcohol and other substances

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 33

      No person on the premises uses, or is under the influence of, alcohol or any other substance that has a detrimental effect on their functioning or behaviour during the service's hours of operation.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety and wellbeing of 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.

      Centres should have a policy and procedure in regard to alcohol and other substances for staff, volunteers, parents and visitors to the centre.

      This should be developed in conjunction with parents so there is a shared understanding of what actions staff may take.

      This policy should cover:

      • What would staff do if a parent or caregiver arrived to drop off or collect a child and they were under the influence of alcohol or any other substance?
      • When is it more appropriate to inform the police rather than trying to prevent an adult from removing a child from the premises?
      • If a member of staff is under the influence of alcohol or any other substance consider what action you will take. This is an employment issue and appropriate procedures would need to be followed.
      • No alcohol is to be consumed on the premises when children are present.
      • Any alcohol is to be stored in a locked cupboard.