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. 


PF11 Telephone

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 11

      Ø There is a telephone on which calls can be made to and from the service.


      To ensure that services have the means to contact parents as necessary, and vice versa, as well as easily deal with any emergency situations that may arise.

  • 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.

      A phone at the centre allows:

      • quick contact with emergency services when necessary
      • 2-way contact with parents or caregivers (that is, you can call them, and they can call you)
      • staff to carry out any business requiring phone contact.

      A mobile phone is sufficient to meet the criterion so long as parents are happy to call a mobile number.

      If a service is located within a larger premises (such as a school, church, or recreation centre), then the phone services within that organisation may be used to comply with this requirement. However, there needs to be adequate systems in place to allow phone messages to be relayed back to the service, and the service to be able to use the phone to make calls when necessary and not impact on adult to child ratios.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Cordless phones are one of the most popular and practical types of phone used in early childhood education centres. The main advantages of cordless phones include being able to:

      • make and take calls while moving around the centre
      • make emergency calls from anywhere inside or outside the building.

      However, if your only phone is a cordless unit, be aware you will be unable to use it when the power goes off for any reason. A ‘back-up’ phone for emergencies is a good idea in this instance.

      Some centres (especially those without administration staff) choose to divert incoming calls to an answer phone during particular times of the day, to minimise the interruptions to staff while they are working with children. This is a matter of choice, but checking messages at regular points through the day to ensure that urgent or important information from parents is received is recommended.