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, 1.7 MB] and printed.
The licensing criteria were last updated in March 2023.
PF27 Isolation area
Premises and facilities criterion 27
Ø § There is space (away from where food is stored, prepared, or eaten) where a sick child can:
- be temporarily kept at a safe distance from other children (to prevent cross-infection);
- lie down comfortably; and
- be supervised.
The criterion aims to uphold the safety and wellbeing of children by ensuring that there are comfortable and safe facilities for the isolation of a sick child.
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.
When a child becomes unexpectedly ill at a centre, there needs to be somewhere for their care to make the sick child feel comfortable, as well as to keep other children from becoming ill until the sick child can be collected and taken home. The child must be able to be supervised. If the child is isolated in a separate room with an adult, the service must maintain adult to child ratios.
Some centres might be in a position to have a separate ‘sick room’, but this is not a requirement. However, there must be an area where sick children can lie down away from other children. For practical purposes, an office or staff room may be the best room for this. Some centres use a couch (with a vinyl sheet and linen that they put down when needed), while others have a bed (either portable or permanently set up) for this purpose. See HS26 – Infection Control for additional guidance.