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.

PF12 Handwashing facilities

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 12

      There are facilities (or appropriate arrangements in place) for hygienic hand washing and drying in any ECE Activity Room.


      To ensure that minimum handwashing facilities are provided for children and adults, and to encourage handwashing by 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 hand washing facilities in the ECE activity room need to meet the particular requirements of the children using them.  

      For example, a hand washing basin may not be appropriate in a room that is going to be used by children who are nil by mouth (unless it is fitted with some way of ensuring children do not have independent access to the water). In this instance, the play specialist would need to be able to provide moistened individual flannels for children, and supervise hand washing to ensure the child does not try to suck them.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      • If the height of hand basins is between 550 and 600mm from the floor for older children, and 450 to 500mm from the floor for young children, they are likely to be easily reached. Consider the age range of children who will attend.
      • Use taps that turn themselves off, with a very easy lever for children to operate. Taps of this type prevent water from being left on.
      • When using taps that ‘turn’, it is a good idea to ask the plumber to limit the amount of ‘turn’ to 180 degrees. This will ensure that children don’t keep turning a tap the wrong way in an effort to turn it off – eventually giving up.

      Providing liquid soap is recommended because it reduces the spread of infection. It should be easily accessible for each child using hand washing facilities.