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. 


HS10 Sleep furniture spacing

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 10

      § Furniture or items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) are arranged and spaced when in use so that:

      • adults have clear access to at least one side (meaning the length, not the width);
      • the area surrounding each child allows sufficient air movement to minimise the risk of spreading illness; and
      • children able to sit or stand can do so safely as they wake.

      The criterion aims to ensure that sleeping provisions are arranged so that they do not present a hazard to children's safety and wellbeing.

  • 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.

      The space between sleep furniture/items needs to allow adults to:

      • easily check on children,
      • ensure they are not too hot or cold,
      • check their breathing
      • move between them quickly in an emergency.

      Allow space within the sleep room for door opening and adult supervision (e.g. An armchair for an adult).

      If multi-level cots are used:

      • Centres must ensure that children who sit or stand when they wake have room to do so. Children who can pull themselves to a standing position should not be placed in the top cot for safety reasons.
      • Centre’s should consider the age of the children at the service and ensure there are sufficient low level cots for them to move into as they grow.

      Further information around multi-level cots is given in PF29 Design of Sleep Provisions.