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.

PF16 Toilet/hand washing facilities

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and Facilities criterion 16

      There is a toilet and hygienic hand washing and drying facilities suitable for the use of the children attending.


      The criterion aims to uphold children's safety and well-being.

  • 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.

      The door to the toilet or bathroom must be able to be independently opened by children and be kept unlocked at all times.

      Adequate supervision is important. The educator will need to manage this depending on where the bathroom facilities are in relation to where children are located in the home.


      • A moveable step and/or a toilet seat insert can be helpful for young children just learning to use a toilet. They can also be easily removed when an adult needs to use the toilet.
      • Some families may use potties – if a potty is used, contents must be disposed of in the toilet and the potty cleaned and sanitised after each use. See HS1 – Premises Maintained and Hygienic guidance for information on using bleach as a sanitiser.

      Hand washing

      • Liquid soap (rather than a communal bar of soap) can be less messy and is more hygienic when there are several children attending.
      • The hot water temperature from household taps can present a scalding hazard to children. Careful supervision is necessary for young children, and older children can be taught about hot water safety.

      Hand drying

      There are a number of ways children can dry their hands, but some are more hygienic and easy to use than others. Viruses and bacteria spread easily from one child to another when they share the same towel. Getting hands dry is important. Damp hands create damp surfaces, which encourages survival of bacteria, viruses, and organisms like Giardia.

      Recommended options include the following.

      Disposable paper towels – there is a cost involved, but they have several advantages:

      • They are easy to use.
      • They do not spread infections.
      • They are easy to replace.
      • They can be used for other cleaning purposes.

      Individual towels for the children attending are preferable to a single communal towel for drying hands. Different colours can be used so that young children can identify ‘their’ towel.