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.

HS4 Emergency drills

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 4

      Adults providing education and care are familiar with relevant emergency drills.

      Documentation required:

      A record of the emergency drills carried out.


      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.

      Drills should be carried out in line with the hospital’s requirements and procedures.

      Centres need to first determine which emergency drills are relevant to their location, and then carry each of these drills out with children at least every three months.

      Relevant drills are likely to at least include fire evacuation, earthquake, lockdown and tsunami, depending on the service’s location.

      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 staff and volunteers are familiar with procedures.

      Regular practice will also ensure that any equipment that will be 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 staff have a range of strategies available to manage any children whose behaviour has become disturbed during an emergency drill.

      In the event of an emergency, hospital play specialists may have a useful role in supporting children who are distressed, and should be prepared with strategies for such situations.

      The following activities will support all adults being with the emergency drill procedures:

      • Emergency drill procedure briefing for all relieving staff and volunteers.
      • Training as part of new staff and volunteer induction.
      • Regular refresher training for all staff and volunteers.
      • Including emergency plans and procedures as a regular agenda item for staff meetings.
      • Communication with parents and families, via noticeboards and in newsletters.

      Staff and volunteers should be able to confidently and knowledgeably:

      • talk about the procedures without needing to refer to any documentation.
      • identify the roles they and others will play during an emergency drill.
      • describe how children (walking and non-walking) will be managed during an emergency drill.
      • describe how they will deal with any unexpected circumstance that arises during an emergency drill – ie respond to questions such as "how will you manage if several of your 3-4 year olds refuse to walk independently from the building?"

      You should aim to hold your trial emergency drills at times when you have typical numbers of children, of varying ages, and adults at the centre. Consider also the timing of the emergency drills and whether or not staff will be notified in advance. Holding unannounced emergency drills at challenging times (eg during lunch time or sleep time) may be inconvenient but will give greater assurance that procedures are effective. Roles for adults could be varied during emergency drills so that any key responsibilities are covered even in the absence of a particular staff member.

      Fire evacuation

      The fire evacuation scheme needs to include regular trial evacuations for fire emergencies. Fire Regulations require this to be done at least every six months, and that it is reported to Fire and Emergency New Zealand within 10 days of taking place. There is information about maintaining an approved evacuation scheme on the Fire and Emergency New Zealand website(external link).

      Record keeping

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

      • The date and time, number of under 2’s and supervising adults, number of over 2’s and supervising adults, other adults or children present, time taken for complete emergency drill (for each separate group if appropriate)
      • A checklist of the key steps in the emergency drill, whether or not they were completed, and any comments.
      • For fire evacuations: A building assessment, eg checking that all appropriate notices were displayed, escape routes were clear, fire fighting equipment serviced etc.
      • 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 centre’s self review. Records of each emergency drill, together with emergency training records, should be used to inform that review. If any changes are required to any emergency drill, these should be noted promptly in evacuation plans and any other documentation and notices updated. Remember also to communicate any changes made with 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)

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      It is essential that staff, relievers and volunteers are made familiar with these requirements before commencing work, and are confident in knowing what they are expected to do, both for practice drills and should there be an actual emergency.

      In the event of a major disaster, they should make themselves available to assist, with particular reference to providing support for the emotional wellbeing of children and suitable coping strategies.

      If a service is closed because of emergency, staff should ensure they are available wherever they can be of help to children, families and colleagues.