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, 1.4 MB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in January 2021.

HS7 Emergency drills

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and Safety practices criterion 7

      Educators are familiar with relevant emergency drills and carry these out with all children present in the home 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.

      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.

      Research has shown that the factor that most contributes to reducing injuries and fatalities during any emergency evacuation 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 evacuation 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 evacuation.

      The following activities will support you in ensuring that all adults are familiar with the evacuation 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 evacuation.
      • They should be able to confidently and knowledgably describe how children (walking and non-walking) will be managed during an evacuation.
      • They should be able to confidently and knowledgeably describe how they will deal with any unexpected circumstance that arises during an evacuation – 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?”

      It is also important that the children are familiar and comfortable with the evacuation procedures. In addition to participation in regular trial evacuations, familiarity with emergency responses can be included as appropriate in the service’s programme.

      Educators are expected to have trial evacuations at least every three months. Evacuation drills should be organised to test a variety of emergency situations and scenarios. For example, practising earthquake drills one day and fire evacuation drills another.

      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 situation and all children can be safely evacuated.

      Older out-of-school care children must not be expected to help carry non-walking children during a 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]

      Documentation Guidance:

      Educators are required to keep a record of each trial evacuation. 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
      • Any issues identified and what actions were taken. e.g. a child tripped over toy on the floor and hurt their knee.

      Keep the drill reports 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 drill reports with the educators. If any changes are required to your evacuation procedures, these should be noted promptly in your evacuation plans and any other documentation and notices updated. Remember also to communicate to all staff, family and others if you have made any changes.