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, 2.1 MB] and printed.
The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022.
PF30 Mattress coverings
Premises and facilities criterion 30
§ Furniture and items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) that will be used by more than one child over time are securely covered with or made of a non-porous material (that is, a material that does not allow liquid to pass through it) that:
- protects them from becoming soiled;
- allows for easy cleaning (or is disposable); and
- does not present a suffocation hazard to children.
To ensure that mattresses that may be used by many children over time are kept hygienically clean and cross infection is prevented.
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.
Children sometimes sweat when they sleep, and bed-wetting accidents do occur from time to time. Damp or soiled mattresses can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Mattresses must have a surface that is smooth, easily cleaned and impervious to moisture and does not present a suffocation hazard to children. The waterproof layer must cover at least the whole of the upper surface and all sides of the mattress.
It is essential plastic mattress covers are securely attached to mattresses. It is recommended that these waterproof covers are held in place with elastic or other such device. Any ripped mattress covers must be replaced immediately.