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. 


PF19 Hand washing facilities ratio

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 19

      There is at least 1 tap delivering warm water (over an individual or shared handbasin) for every 15 persons (or part thereof) at the service (that is to say, children attending and adults counting towards the required adult:child ratio).


      To ensure that minimum hand washing facilities are provided for children and adults, and to encourage hand washing by children.

  • 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.

      Services must provide at least one tap delivering warm water (over an individual or shared hand basin) for every 15 persons (or part thereof) – for both children and adults to meet the required adult to child ratio.

      Some district health boards (DHBs) have their own specific requirements. You will need to contact your local DHB for clarification.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      The following are some measures centres might want to consider implementing to meet this ratio:

      • Providing long stainless steel troughs that have 3 or 4 warm water taps can be easier for 3 or 4 children to use, and easier to clean and manage soap spills than 3 or 4 individual sinks.
      • It can be helpful to have additional hand wash facilities in main play areas. If children can easily wash hands after messy play, supervision is eased and congestion in the bathroom reduced. It can also be very handy to reduce congestion in the bathroom area before mealtimes. Whether this is suitable will depend on the service’s overall layout, arrangement of groups and children’s age ranges.
      • Additional hand washing facilities can also be provided in the kitchen setting, particularly if you are serving food.

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