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.
PF20 Design of sleep provisions
Premises and Facilities criterion 20
Furniture and items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) are of a size that allows children using them to lie flat, and are of a design to ensure their safety.
To ensure that sleeping provisions are safe and appropriate for children using them.
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.
This guidance should be read in conjunction with the guidance for the other criteria relating to sleep (Premises and Facilities 19-22(external link) and Health and Safety 8-10(external link)).
Furniture and items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) must:
- Be large enough to allow all children to lie flat on their backs
- Be of a design that ensures children’s safety.
In addition, they must:
- Allow children, who are able to, sit or stand safely when they wake (HS9(external link))
- Allow adults to easily get children out in the case of an emergency evacuation (HS4(external link))
If furniture and items do not meet these requirements then they cannot be used.
When assessing the safety of sleep furniture and items, the following need to be considered:
- The development of the child (mobile or non-mobile)
- The height of the furniture in terms of falling risk – beds must be less than 700mm above the floor
- The ability for clothing, bedding or the child’s head becoming caught presenting a strangulation hazard
- The presence of any small parts that could be a choking hazard
- The ability for fingers or limbs to become trapped
A cot is designed for infants and is enclosed on all four sides so the infant cannot fall out. A cot is only suitable for infants who are able to be lifted out.
Cots must have no gaps or protrusions that could trap an infant or catch their clothing and have no sharp edges. The sides must be high enough to stop an infant climbing out and there should be no footholds.
Where cots are used, these should be sturdy, easily washable (PF21(external link)) and allow good airflow (HS9(external link)).
Mattresses need to fit firmly inside the cot to avoid gaps that an infant could get wedged in. Mattresses should not be too soft, as this is a risk factor for infant suffocation.
Portable cots can only be used in a home-based setting if they are used by a single child. As portable cots are made with a textile or mesh that allows for breathable air zones, they cannot be easily cleaned when used for multiple children (PF21(external link)).
Home-based services may use a portable cot if it:
- meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2195:2010 (Folding cots)
- has a mattress covered in non-porous material, and
- is used for only one child.
Children who are able to stand up are not to be placed in portable cots as the portable cot could tip over when a child stands and the child could be injured.
Stretchers and mattresses
Stretchers or mattresses must not pose a suffocation hazard. Inflatable mattresses cannot be used as they allow a child’s face to be smothered, so cannot ensure a child’s safety.
Stretcher fabric must be taut and its wear monitored to ensure the stretcher does not sag with use over time.
Beds are single level sleep furniture where the upper surface of the mattress is less than 700mm above the floor. Children are able to get in and out of a bed without adult assistance.
Infants must not be placed in a bed as they may roll off the bed.
Bunk beds and elevated beds
Bunk beds are those where multiple beds are stacked on top of each other and the upper surface of the mattress is 700mm or more above the floor.
Elevated beds are those where the upper surface of the mattress is 700mm or more above the floor.
Bunk beds and elevated beds cannot be used as beds as this height poses a falling risk and they are not of a design that ensures a child’s safety.
Risk mitigations such as increasing supervision or the use of safety matting do not meet the requirements of this criterion.
If there are bunk beds present in the home, they must not be used. The room with the bunk bed must be made inaccessible to children. It must be included on the hazard management checklist (HS11(external link)) for that home and the bedroom door must be closed each day.
If an infant is sleeping in a cot or portable cot, the infant must not be in the same room as a bunk bed.
Slings, backpacks, prams, buggies and car capsules
Items whose primary purpose is transportation e.g. slings, backpacks, prams, buggies and car capsules cannot be provided by the home-based provider or educator as an item intended for children to sleep on as they are not intended for that purpose or allow children to lie flat.
- Things to consider
Things to consider
Some home-based services like to have prams or buggies available for excursions, or to settle children when necessary. Prams and buggies are primarily designed to transport children when adults need to walk some distance. Although children often do sleep ‘in transit’ in a pram or buggy, this is not the primary purpose of the equipment. A buggy is therefore not the best place for a child to sleep if there is no need to transport them anywhere.