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.

HS7 Emergency drills

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and Safety practices criterion 7

      Educators are familiar with relevant emergency drills and carry out each type of drill with all children present in the home (as appropriate) on an, at least, three-monthly basis.

      Documentation required:

      A record of the emergency drills carried out and evidence of how evaluation of the drills has informed the annual review of the service's emergency plan.

      ⚐ For services providing out-of-school care the record must include evidence of drills performed with enrolled children and out-of-school care children at the same time.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children by ensuring that:

      • adults at the service have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to deal with emergency situations;
      • review of the service’s emergency plan and evacuation procedures are part of the service’s regular self review processes; and
      • children are familiar with, and confident in, responding to emergency procedures.

  • 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.

      Home-based service providers and educators will need to work together to determine which emergency drills are relevant to their location. Relevant drills are likely to at least include fire evacuation, earthquake, shelter in place and lockdown. Tsunami drills are relevant for services in tsunami zones.

      Then, carry out each of these drills at least every three months. Most drills will be practiced by staff with children, the exceptions are lockdown and in some instances tsunami. (see below)

      Why practice emergency drills?

      Research has shown that the factor that most contributes to reducing injuries and fatalities during any emergency situation is regular practice. This ensures that educators are familiar with procedures and that children also become familiar and comfortable with what is expected of them.

      Regular practice also ensures that any equipment relied on in an emergency drill will be subject to regular checks, for example, any special equipment that might be used to assist in the evacuation of the non-walking children. It is also recommended that educators have a range of strategies available to manage any children whose behaviour has become disturbed during the emergency drill.

      The following activities will support you in ensuring that all adults are familiar with the emergency drill procedures:

      • Training as part of new staff and educator’s induction.
      • Regular refresher training for all staff.
      • Including emergency plans and procedures as a regular agenda item for meetings between educators and coordinators.
      • Communication with parents and families in newsletters or placing information on a website.

      Educators should be able to talk confidently and knowledgeably about the procedures without needing to refer to any documentation:

      • They should be able to confidently identify the roles that they and others will play during an emergency drill.
      • They should be able to confidently and knowledgably describe how children (walking and non-walking) will be managed during an emergency drill.
      • They should be able to confidently and knowledgeably describe how they will deal with any unexpected circumstance that arises during an emergency drill – i.e. respond to questions such as “How will you manage if any of your 3-4 year olds refuse to walk independently from the home?”


      If the home is providing out-of-school care, drills need to include both the enrolled children and older out-of-school care children to ensure everyone in the home knows what to do in an emergency drill and all children can be safely evacuated.

      Older out-of-school care children must not be expected to help carry non-walking children during an emergency drill, nor should they be responsible for the evacuation of ECE children.

      If the home where the service is operating is located in an apartment building, the building will have regular fire drills. Apartment owners and/or tenants will be notified of these drills and they should inform the educator of any planned drill. During these drills, building alarms will sound and the educator will need to evacuate to the building’s assembly area with all children present.

      Additional guidance is available specifically for ECE services above ground level. We recommend reading this. Guidance for ECE Services - Evacuation from High Rise Buildings. [PDF, 260 KB]

      Shelter in place

      Shelter in place is a drill that should be practiced with children in the service and involves children being asked calmly to come quickly inside and play inside for a period of time because of an external “threat” such as a chemical spill, swarm of wasps. The entries and exits to the building are restricted, however normal instructional activities continue as much as possible.


      Lockdown drills should be practiced by educators without children. Drills on what to do in potentially violent situations can be practiced, but at a time that children are not on site as the drills may cause undue fear and anxiety. However, educators should be aware of procedures and able to carry the procedures out if the service has been alerted to an immediate threat. Practices for lockdown drills should be recorded and kept as per other drills.


      Some services are in low-lying coastal areas and therefore would be required to evacuate if there was a tsunami warning. Some of these services may have an evacuation procedure that requires the use of vehicles to get children to high ground as quickly as possible. It is not expected that these services practice the tsunami drill to the full extent by loading vehicles with children and travelling to the designated safe space as this may pose unnecessary risk to children. These services should still practice their tsunami drill and include children as far as practicably possible eg: drill may include a process that facilitates the movement of children to the proposed exit point as quickly as possible in preparation for getting children into planned evacuation vehicle/s.
      Services who do not plan to use vehicles for evacuating children in the case of a tsunami should still practice the tsunami drill as per their procedure and in line with their services emergency plan (HS4).

      Record keeping

      Educators are required to keep a record of each emergency drill. At a minimum, this should record:

      • The date and time.
      • Number and ages of children and whether any are receiving out-of-school care.
      • Any other people present.
      • A checklist of the key steps in the emergency drill, whether or not they were completed, and any comments.
      • Details of any actions that need to be taken to rectify faults discovered or to improve on the planned procedure.

      Keep the emergency drill records for two years.

      Reviewing emergency plans and evacuation procedures should be a regular part of a service’s self review. Co-ordinators should discuss the emergency drill reports with the educators. If any changes are required to your emergency drills, these should be noted promptly in your evacuation plans and any other documentation and notices updated. Remember also to communicate to all staff, parents and whānau as required.

      The National Emergency Management Agency have a What’s the Plan Stan website(external link) which focuses on helping children prepare for an emergency and a special section which aims to support teachers to develop children’s knowledge, skills and attitudes to respond to and prepare for an emergency.

      Additional guidance is available specifically for centres above ground level. Guidance for ECE Services - Evacuation from High Rise Buildings(external link)