Licensing criteria for hospital-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines hospital-based education and care service as the provision of education or care to 3 or more children under the age of 6 who are receiving hospital care.

ECE services operating from hospital premises that provide education and care to siblings of patients or children of hospital staff or patients are centre-based ECE services, not hospital-based ECE services.

Hospital-based 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, 1.2 MB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022.

HS2 Premises and contents are safe and hygienic

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 2

      Premises, furniture, furnishings, fittings, equipment, and materials used by children as part of the ECE programme are kept safe, hygienic and maintained in good condition.


      The criterion aims to uphold the health and safety of children.

  • 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.

      Any damage to premises, furnishing or fittings should be removed or items replaced as soon as possible.

      Hard surfaces should be kept clean and equipment or toys should be kept hygienic – items mouthed by babies or infants should be washed as soon as practicable.

      Equipment should be safe and suitable for its purpose and the age of children using it.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Staff, volunteers and relievers need to be familiar with the hospital’s infection control policies, including policies for play and other equipment taken into isolation rooms.

      Play specialists should be guided by their hospital’s infection control policies as to which cleaning agents to use.