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.

HS5 Animals

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 5

      Safe and hygienic handling practices are implemented with regard to any animals at the service. All animals are able to be restrained.


      The criterion aims to ensure that animals kept by the service do not pose a health risk to 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.

      Animals brought to the hospital would usually be part of a formalised visiting programme.

      Considerations would need to include:

      • Infection control
      • Choice of where the animal(s) will be, e.g. visiting wards, individual rooms, or in public areas
      • Suitable restraint.

      You will need to ensure that children and adults who handle animals practice thorough hand washing procedures afterwards.