Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services
Section 15 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as premises 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 being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6—
- by the 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, 2.1 MB] and printed.
The licensing criteria were last updated in April 2021.
PF29 Design of sleep provisions
Premises and facilities criterion 29
§ Furniture and items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) are of a size that allows children using them to lie flat, and are of a design to ensure their safety.
To ensure that sleeping provisions are safe and appropriate for children using them.
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.
Furniture and items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) must:
- Be large enough to allow all children to lie flat on their backs
- Be of a design that ensures children’s safety.
In addition, they must:
- Allow children, who are able to, sit or stand safely when they wake (HS10(external link))
- Allow adults to easily get children out in the case of an emergency evacuation (HS7(external link))
If furniture and items do not meet these requirements they cannot be used.
When assessing the safety of sleep furniture and items, the following need to be considered:
- The development of the child (mobile or non-mobile)
- The height of the furniture in terms of falling risk – beds must be less than 700mm above the floor
- The ability for clothing, bedding or the child’s head becoming caught presenting a strangulation hazard
- The presence of any small parts that could be a choking hazard
- The ability for fingers or limbs to become trapped
A cot is designed for infants and is enclosed on all four sides so the infant cannot fall out. A cot is only suitable for infants who are able to be lifted out.
Cots must have no gaps or protrusions that could trap an infant or catch their clothing and have no sharp edges. The sides must be high enough to stop an infant climbing out and there should be no footholds.
Mattresses need to fit firmly inside the cot to avoid gaps that an infant could get wedged in. Mattresses should not be too soft, as this is a risk factor for infant suffocation.
Multi-level cots, bunk cots and stacker cots
Multi-level cots (also known as bunk cots or stacker cots) are those where (usually) two cots are fixed on top of each other.
Multi-level cots are only acceptable if the following can be assured:
- The area situated around each cot is well ventilated to allow sufficient fresh air to circulate and there is no build-up of carbon dioxide, moisture and heat (HS10(external link)).
- Regional Public Health have no concerns about the air flow through and around the cots (HS10(external link)).
- Cots are easily accessible by staff and sufficiently separated to avoid cross infection (HS10(external link)).
- The cots must be secured to the wall so that the cots cannot fall in any event (HS6(external link)).
- There is a specific evacuation plan for the sleep room where there are multi-level cots (HS7(external link)).
- Fire and Emergency NZ has no concerns about the use of the multi-level cot (HS4(external link))
- Children, who can sit, are able to safely sit up in the lower level of the cots (HS10(external link)).
Multi-level cots must only be able to be opened from the outside by an adult to place a child in or remove a child.
Multi-level cots must have no gaps or protrusions that could trap an infant or catch their clothing and have no sharp edges. The sides must be high enough to stop an infant climbing out and there should be no footholds.
Mattresses need to fit firmly inside the multi-level cot to avoid gaps that an infant could get wedged in. Mattresses should not be too soft, as this is a risk factor for infant suffocation.
Children who are able to sit or stand up are not to be placed in the upper level of multi-level cots, as they could be injured or fall from the cot when attempting to get up. Once children are too large or mobile for the multi-level cots, they are to be moved either to a single level cot or to a stretcher or a bed.
Portable cots cannot be used in a centre based setting. As portable cots are made with a textile or mesh that allows for breathable air zones, they cannot be easily cleaned when used for multiple children (PF30(external link)).
Stretchers and mattresses
Stretchers or mattresses must not pose a suffocation hazard. Inflatable mattresses cannot be used as they allow a child’s face to be smothered, so cannot ensure a child’s safety.
Stretcher fabric must be taut and its wear monitored to ensure the stretcher does not sag with use over time.
Beds are single level sleep furniture where the upper surface of the mattress is less than 700mm above the floor. Children are able to get in and out of a bed without adult assistance.
Infants must not be placed in a bed as they may roll off the bed.
Bunk beds and elevated beds
Bunk beds are those where multiple beds are stacked on top of each other and the upper surface of the mattress is 700mm or more above the floor.
Elevated beds are those where the upper surface of the mattress is 700mm or more above the floor.
Bunk beds and elevated beds cannot be used as beds as this height poses a falling risk and they are not of a design that ensures a child’s safety.
Risk mitigations such as increasing supervision or the use of safety matting do not meet the requirements of this criterion.
Slings, backpacks, prams, buggies and car capsules
Items whose primary purpose is transportation such as slings, backpacks, prams, buggies and car capsules cannot be provided by the centre as an item intended for children to sleep on as they are not intended for that purpose or allow children to lie flat.