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. 


HS2 Laundering

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 2

      § Linen used by children or adults is hygienically laundered.

      Documentation required:

      A procedure for the hygienic laundering (off-site or on-site) of linen used by the children or adults.


      The criterion aims to ensure that inadequate laundering practices do not pose a health risk 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.

      Many items in ECE centres need prompt, regular washing. This should include bedding as well as towels, cloths, bibs and dress ups.

      ECE centres need to ensure they have good supplies of linen to cover any potential shortages.

      Refer to Criteria PF31 - Bedding for more information.

      Documentation Guidance:

      Procedures should address:

      • Items that should be laundered and how often
      • Who does the laundering
      • If the washing is taken home by parents, that it is done as a separate load to the household wash
      • Are different types of laundry washed separately to prevent cross infection e.g. kitchen and bathroom linen separated from bedding linen for example?

      Regional Public Health Units recommend that all washing is done in hot water with an adequate amount of laundry detergent.

      For more information contact your local Public Health Service office.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Items to be laundered include:

      • bedding
      • all kitchen laundry (dish cloths, tea towels, hand towels, oven mits etc)
      • bibs
      • dress-up clothes
      • fabric play items
      • towels
      • furniture coverings
      • cloths used for art and messy play
      • cloth nappies if used.

      If there is a washing machine on site, it is a good idea to have a door leading directly from the laundry to the outside area, so staff can access the washing line without walking through the centre.

      If an indoor drying rack is used, adults need to ensure that it does not obstruct corridors, exit and entry points or impinge of children’s play areas.

      If there is not a washing machine and drying facilities on site, you may want to consider:

      • using a roster system of parents to pick up and return linen for laundering so that you can ensure a good supply of clean linen. If parents are to be used, ensure
      • you have clear procedures, which ensure hygienic laundering.
      • contracting a commercial laundry.