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. 


PF38 All-day under 2 child:cot ratio

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 38


      Furniture or items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) are provided at a ratio of at least one to every 2 children under the age of two.


      To uphold the well-being of children under the age of 2 by ensuring there are adequate furniture and items for sleep available to meet the requirements of the ratio for the children attending the service.

  • 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.

      If the service decides to allow children to rest or sleep as and when they need to throughout the day (either in a separate room or in a quiet area of the service) then the stated ratio of 1 to 2 needs to be met. It is important that children have something to lie down on when they want to sleep or rest, and do not have to wait.

      If a scheduled sleep or rest time is part of the centre’s daily routine, then one cot, bed, stretcher, or mattress will be needed for each child attending.