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. 


PF17 Kitchens inaccessible

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 17

      Kitchen and cooking facilities or appliances are designed, located, or fitted with safety devices to ensure that children cannot access them without adult assistance or supervision.


      Criterion aims to uphold children's safety by ensuring that they are unable to access hazardous equipment or activities (such as hot food/liquid being transferred from the stove to the bench by a staff member whilst preparing a meal) unless adequately supervised.

  • 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.

      Kitchens and cooking facilities are potentially dangerous places for children so access for children must be supervised. For this reason, centres need to have the ability to make their kitchen and cooking facilities inaccessible to children.

      This does not mean children must never be able to go into the centre kitchen. There are likely to be times when children will need to access kitchen and cooking facilities to take part in supervised activities such as cooking and food preparation.

      Half doors or hinged gates are effective and practical ways of restricting access to kitchen facilities. If you are considering the use of fixed barriers, such as plywood panels fitted into slots, think about how these might work in practice.

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