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. 


PF18 Toilet ratio

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 18

      The service has at least 1 toilet for every 1-15 persons. Persons are defined as children aged two and older and teaching staff that count towards the required adult:child ratio.


      To ensure at least one toilet is provided for those present at the service. The reference to children aged 2:

      • recognises that, around this age, children are starting to interact with toilets – sole use of potties does not provide opportunities for this learning experience
      • ensures services licensed exclusively for under 2 year olds are not disadvantaged by having to provide more toilets than would be of use for under 2 year olds.

  • 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.

      The number of toilets needed for centres is calculated as follows: the maximum number of children on the licence certificate minus the maximum number of children under 2 (if any), plus the maximum number of adults required to meet adult to child ratios, divided by 15.

      Here is an example:
      An all-day centre is licensed for 25 children, including up to 5 children under the age of 2. A maximum of 3 staff are required to meet adult to child ratios (2 for the older children, and one for the under 2s).

      25 (max licensed numbers) – 5 (under 2s) + 3 (adults) = 23 (people counting towards toilet ratio requirements)

      23 ÷ 15 = 1.53

      Always round up to the nearest number. Therefore, this centre needs a total of 2 toilets to meet this criterion.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      You may want to consider the needs of children when they are toilet training. Often young children cannot wait to go to the toilet.

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