Licensing criteria for home-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines home-based ECE services as the provision of education or care, for gain or reward, to children who are under the age of 5 years, or who are aged 5 years but not enrolled at school, in:

  • the children’s own home; or
  • the home of the person providing the education or care; or
  • any other home nominated by a parent of the children.

These services 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 services meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

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

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.3 MB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022.

HS23 Response to Infectious Illnesses

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and Safety practices criterion 23

      All practicable steps are taken to ensure that children do not come into contact with any person (adult or child) on the premises who is suffering from a disease or condition likely to be passed on to children and likely to have a detrimental effect on them.

      Specifically, any child who becomes unwell while attending the service or receiving out-of-school-care is kept at a safe distance from other children (to minimise the spread of infection) and returned to the care of a parent or other person authorised to collect the child without delay.

      ⚐ Out-of-school care must not be provided to children who are absent from school due to illness.


      The criterion aims to uphold the health and safety of children by preventing undue exposure to disease or illness.

      Amended November 2016

  • 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.

      It is very common for early childhood services to have to deal with children experiencing different forms of illness. Some will be infectious; that is, spread from person to person. Other forms of illness do not spread and will only affect the child or adult who has the illness.

      It is not always easy to tell when a child is becoming ill. They can react in a variety of ways – they can become confused, distressed, miserable, very quiet, or ‘clingy’.

      It is also quite difficult to tell what has caused the illness and whether or not it is infectious. Familiarity with the information in Appendix 2 of the criteria on infectious illnesses, incubation periods, symptoms, recommended exclusion times from attending the service etc will be helpful.

      Home-based services must take steps to minimise the contact of children with any person who has an infectious illness.

      When a child becomes ill at a home that is not their own, the sooner they can be taken home, the better. In order for them to be kept at a safe distance from other children at the home the educator will need a separate area for them that can be easily supervised whilst looking after other children attending. For more information see the guidance for PF14 – Isolation Area.

      When a child becomes ill in their own home, they will need to be isolated from other children in the home. The educator will need to consider either the other children being picked up or relocated to another educator’s home.

      If there are out-of-school care children in the home, a similar process is required so they can be isolated from other children and collected as soon as possible.

      It is a good idea for the educator and family(s) to agree when the child is enrolled what will happen when a child is ill or appears to be becoming ill. To enable timely contact, it is vital to have up-to-date contact information for the parents on children’s enrolment records.

      Equally it is important to have a shared understanding of what will happen if the educator is sick or becomes ill whilst looking after children in the home.

      A policy and procedure that covers exclusion for general or infectious illness for the home-based service will assist educators to make a decision about whether or not to exclude a child on the grounds of ill health – either on the spot or when parents have a doctor’s diagnosis.

      Regional Public Health produce a number of fact sheets on a variety of diseases(external link).

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      When should children stay away from the service?

      In general children should stay away from an early childhood service when they are ill and causing concern or:

      • have no interest in activities or play
      • have little energy - want or need to sleep or rest for long periods
      • cry easily, are irritable or in pain
      • constantly want to be held and comforted, are ‘clingy’
      • have a fever
      • have diarrhoea or vomiting.

      What to do if children become ill while at the service

      • Call their parents or emergency contact to either come home or collect them as soon as possible.
      • If the educator is at the child’s home, the child may just want to be tucked into their usual bed.
      • If a child cannot go home immediately, keep them away from others, perhaps by making a bed up on a couch for them and get the other children involved in an activity as far away as practical while still being able to monitor the child
      • Give them plenty of clear fluids to drink (water). Keep them cool if there is a fever and warm if they are cold.
      • Assess the child’s illness. If a parent or caregiver is not available and the child seems to be becoming more ill, arrange for the child to be seen by a doctor.

      Preventing spread of illness to others

      • If other children develop the illness, take a careful look at the hygiene and cleaning routines used at the home:
      • make sure everyone is washing their hands thoroughly before eating and after using the toilet and the educator after changing nappies
      • Wash children and wipe noses with disposable wipes or cloths that are used only once.
      • Check that cups and eating utensils are washed thoroughly in hot water.

      What happens if the educator becomes ill?

      If an educator is looking after children in their own home and is ill or becomes ill while children are in their care, they should notify their co-ordinator. In consultation with parents, the children should be moved to another educator’s home or sent home.

      If an educator is working in the family’s home and becomes ill while children are in their care, they should notify their co-ordinator and the child’s parents.