Certification criteria for playgroups

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines a playgroup as a group that meets on a regular basis to facilitate children's play and in respect of which—

  1. no child attends for more than 4 hours on any day; and
  2. more than half the children attending on any occasion have a parent or caregiver present in the same play area at the same time; and
  3. the total number of children attending on any occasion is not greater than 4 times the number of parents and caregivers present in the same play area at the same time.

Playgroups include Puna Kōhungahunga, cultural playgroups and community language playgroups.

Playgroups are certificated in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each certificated playgroup must meet. Certification criteria are used to assess how playgroups meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help playgroups meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.1 MB] and printed.

The certification criteria were last updated in September 2022.

MA6 Safety Checking

  • Criteria
    • Criteria


      Before a person is employed or engaged as a children's worker, as defined in the Children's Act 2014, a safety check as required by that Act must be completed.

      A detailed record of each component of the safety check must be kept, and the date on which each step was taken must be recorded, including the date of the risk assessment required to be completed after all relevant information is obtained. 

      These records must be kept by, or available to, the service provider as long as the person is employed or engaged.

      Every children’s worker must be safety checked every three years. Safety checks may be carried out by the employer or another person or organisation acting on their behalf.

      Documentation required:

      1. A written procedure for safety checking all children’s workers before employment or engagement of the worker commences that meets the safety checking requirements of the Children's Act 2014.
      2. A record of all safety checks and the results.


      Consistent robust safety checking helps assess whether people might pose a risk to children.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Paid supervisors or coordinators working in Playgroups are required to be safety checked to meet the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014. Safety checking should be part of a recruitment process for all roles that involve contact with children.

      The following links take you to more detailed guidance for safety checking and two tools that can assist you in completing this process – a list of actions to support you through the steps and a spreadsheet for collating your documentation of the checks.

      Safety Checking General Guidance

      Tools and Resources

      Who needs to be safety checked?

      The Children's Act 2014 specifies who needs to be safety checked. You can read this in section 23 of the Children's Act 2014(external link).

      In Playgroups, only paid supervisors or coordinators need to be safety checked.  Volunteers, for example parents attending with their children, do not need to be safety checked.

      The safety check must be completed by the employing organisation (which may be the Playgroup itself). The Playgroup needs to confirm that the safety check has been completed if the safety check has been done by the employing organisation.

      Components of the safety check

      Full requirements for safety checking are set out in the Children's (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015(external link).

      Safety checking includes the collection and consideration of a range of information about the person.

      A safety check is made up of 7 components:

      1. verification of identity (including previous identities)
      2. an interview
      3. information about work history
      4. referee information
      5. information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body
      6. a New Zealand police vet
      7. a risk assessment.

      The risk assessment involves an evaluation of all information collected to assess if there is any risk to the children’s safety. For example, is a driving offence relevant to the requirements of the role or going to pose a risk to children? Would this information mean you should or shouldn’t employ or engage the person? You must take into account the guidance we have provided in your risk assessment.

      The publication Safer Recruitment, Safer Children [PDF, 2.4 MB] provides best practice guidance and Children’s worker safety checking under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 [PDF, 1.2 MB] provides advice for organisations interpreting and applying the safety checking regulations.

      A safety check of a new children’s worker requires all 7 components to be completed.

      A safety check of an existing children’s worker requires the following 4 of the 7 components to be completed:
      1.   verification of identity (including previous identities),
      5.   information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body,
      6.   a New Zealand police vet, and
      7.   a risk assessment.

      An existing children’s worker is someone you have continuously employed since before 1 July 2015.

      Periodic rechecking of all children’s workers requires the following 4 of the 7 components to be completed:
      1.   that the person hasn’t changed their name and if so reconfirmation of their identity,
      5.   information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body,
      6.   a New Zealand police vet, and
      7.   a risk assessment.

      The Ministry has prepared flow charts which explain the checks that must be completed on adults in specific roles.

      Certificated teachers

      Playgroup supervisors/coordinators who hold a current practising certificate will be police vetted by the Teaching Council as part of issuing and renewing the person’s practising certificate.

      If the Teaching Council has issued or renewed a practising certificate, they will have considered them to have a satisfactory vet. Playgroups can choose to rely on this or carry out their own police vet.

      More information is available on the Police Vetting page.

      The employing organisation must carry out all of the other components of the safety checking process for certificated teachers. 

      It must also:

      • meet the teacher in person
      • check a primary identification document
      • check a specified form of photographic identification
      • check that the name on the practising certificate matches the name on the person’s identity documentation
      • check the Teaching Council’s online register (https://teachingcouncil.nz/search-the-register(external link)) for the latest updates to the teacher’s registration and practising certificate status
      • undertake a risk assessment.

      When do people need to be safety checked?

      You cannot employ or engage a person as a new children’s worker until the safety check has been completed. 

      Playgroups / employers cannot rely on a safety check done by a different employer (either current or previous) as the check was not done on their behalf. They must carry out all of the components themselves.

      After 1 July 2018 you cannot continue to employ an existing core children’s worker until the safety check has been completed. 

      After 1 July 2019 you cannot continue to employ an existing non-core children’s worker until the safety check has been completed. 

      Periodic rechecking must be done every 3 years.

      Umbrella organisation carrying out safety checks

      If an organisation (for example a church or the Salvation Army) doing the safety checks is the employer for staff at multiple playgroups, then any of their playgroups  can use the children’s workers who have been safety checked by that employer.

      Relying on safety checking completed by another organisation on your behalf

      Where some or all components of the safety check have been completed by another organisation on a service’s behalf, the playgroup or employing organisation is responsible for confirming that these components have been completed, and that a full safety check has been done.

      If the playgroup chooses to rely on a safety check completed on their behalf, we recommend that they:

      • Seek permission from the person who is being safety checked for the information to be shared.  Permission could be sought by the person or organisation completing the safety check before it is undertaken, or by the playgroup prior to requesting the information. 
      • Prior to the safety check, obtain confirmation from the person or organisation that they are undertaking the safety check on your behalf.
      • Obtain in writing from the person or organisation completing the safety check that they have done this to the standard set out in the Children's Act 2014.
      • Complete the identity check and risk assessment for all children’s workers, even if these have already been completed by another person or organisation.
      • Keep records about the safety checking of children’s workers they engage or employ.

      Responsibility for safety checking always rests with the employing or contracting organisation.  This means playgroup should exercise due diligence when relying on checks undertaken by others.  Things to consider include:

      • How long ago the safety check was done
      • The purpose of the safety check that was done (for example what role).

      Workforce restriction and core worker exemption

      The Children's Act 2014 introduces a new children’s workforce restriction, which prohibits Playgroups from employing or engaging people with a specified offence as core workers, unless they hold a Core Worker Exemption.

      A specified offence means an offence identified in Schedule 2 of the Children's Act 2014(external link).

      Individuals prohibited from being employed or engaged in a core worker role under the workforce restriction can apply for a Core Worker Exemption(external link).

      Employers will be able to confirm whether a person holds a Core Worker Exemption.

      Short-term emergencies

      Playgroups may employ a children’s worker they have previously police vetted and whose vet is current, without completing the remaining components of the safety check, to manage short-term emergencies.

      If a Playgroup considers that an emergency or unexpected situation has arisen that increases risks to children, they may engage or employ a children’s worker to reduce those risks without completing all components of the safety check, forup to 5 consecutive working days, as long as the employee has a current police vet.

      However, in the interests of children’s safety, we recommend that Playgroups begin the full safety checking process as soon as possible in an emergency or unexpected situation.

      Screening service for early learning service owner operators who are children’s workers

      A screening service is available to undertake safety checks for specified groups of children’s workers.

      This service has been established to provide third party safety checks for children’s workers in the health, education and social development sectors who are self-employed or sole-practitioners.

      In the education sector, this screening service has been approved for early learning service owner-operators.

      • Anyone who works with children must be safety checked.
      • You may choose to use this approved screening service, but you are not obliged to do so. You can conduct your checks through another service.

      There is a cost to applicants for this service. To find out more, go to CV Check(external link).

      Documentation guidance:

      Under Section 39(3) of the Children's Act 2014(external link), service providers are required to be able to provide details on any safety check done on a person and their work history including:

      1. how their identity was confirmed, and
      2. all information provided during the safety check, and
      3. the risk assessment, and
      4. the date or dates on which the person was engaged or employed by the organisation, and
      5. the nature of the work the person was/is engaged in.

      Evidence of all children’s worker safety checks must be kept for at least as long as the children’s worker is employed or engaged, then securely destroyed. All information must be provided to the Ministry of Education, or any other relevant agency, on request. 

      The result of the safety check is confidential and the service provider and only those staff delegated with responsibilities that would require them to access the information should be able to do so.

      Information needs to be stored appropriately. Typically, screening information will be kept on a person’s personnel file. Files should be stored in a secure location with access only available for appropriate staff.

      Once information is no longer required to be retained, it must be securely destroyed.