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. 


PF21 Hand drying facilities

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 21

      § There is means of drying hands for children and adults that prevents the spread of infection.


      The criterion aims to uphold hygienic practices by ensuring that hand drying facilities are adequate.

  • 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.

      There are a number of ways children can dry their hands, but some are more hygienic and easy to use than others. Viruses and bacteria spread easily from one child to another when they share the same towel. Getting hands dry is important. Damp hands create damp surfaces, which encourages survival of bacteria, viruses, and organisms like Giardia.

      Recommended options include the following.

      Disposable paper towels – for most centres, the best option is paper towels. There is a cost involved, but they have several advantages:

      • They are easy to use.
      • They do not spread infections.
      • They are easy to replace.
      • They can be used for other cleaning purposes.

      Hint: To make paper towels more economical, half-sized paper towels are available that can be used with standard dispensers. You can reduce mess by teaching children to scrunch the paper towel into the smallest ball they can, before dropping it in the bin.

      Individual towels – if you can organise a good system for each child to have their own towel, then individual towels can be good. The trouble is, towels usually get mixed up, and they also take up a lot of space.

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