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. 


PF22 Toilet privacy

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 22

      § At least one of the toilets for use by children is designed to provide them with some sense of privacy.


      The criterion aims to uphold children's wellbeing by ensuring that some consideration is given to the need for privacy by some children, due to cultural or individual differences. The criterion also aims to prevent service providers from designing toilet areas purely from a cost-driven perspective.

  • 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.

      Toilet design is important for children’s sense of well-being in a centre. ‘Open plan’ toilets are easy to supervise, but they do not provide children with a sense of privacy, and sometimes will mean children try to avoid going to the toilet. Some children have a much higher need for privacy than others due to cultural or individual differences, and this should be respected.

      A balance is required between a child’s right to privacy and ensuring sufficient supervision so a child can be helped if required.

      Centres will have different preferences around privacy and toilet doors, and some building authorities will require toilet doors, while others will not. It is a matter of balancing children’s need for privacy with adequate supervision and hygiene. It is suggested that you talk to your local building authority and health protection officer (HPO) to clarify their interpretations of the relevant legislation.

      The requirement for a toilet that provides ‘some sense of privacy’ can be met in a variety of ways, but ‘line of sight’ is a good way to assess whether a toilet offers a child with some sense of privacy. Half-height doors (about 1.1m high from the floor) are an option that will allow you to supervise while still giving children a sense of privacy.

      When considering a specific toilet for privacy, ‘line of sight’ can be applied in 2 ways.

      Line of sight from the door:

      • When standing in the doorway, do you have direct sight of the child on the toilet?
      • Is the child within view of adjacent areas when the bathroom door is open?

      Line of sight from those using bathroom facilities:

      • Is the child able to be seen directly by children using the other toilets?
      • Which way do children face when using the washbasin? Are they in front of the child or to the side of the child?
      • What is the proximity of the washbasin to the toilet?
      • Is there anything about the design that offers the child some sense of privacy (for example, a partition or children facing away from the cubicle while hand washing)?

      The following diagram provides an example of how ‘line of sight’ can be used. Please note that the following assessments are provided as a guide only.

       Line of sight diagram

      In the above example, cubicles one and 2 appear to be in direct line of sight from the doorway, making children immediately visible to people entering the bathroom and to anyone in the adjoining area. Cubicle 3 does not appear to be in direct line of sight from the door. Children using the washing facilities face away from the toilet, which also maintains some sense of privacy for the child using cubicle 3.

      As all bathrooms are set up differently, it is important to work alongside licensing staff to meet this requirement.

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