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.

PF9 Infant toddler safe space

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 9

      There are safe and comfortable spaces in any ECE Activity Room for infants, toddlers, or children not walking to lie, roll, creep, crawl, pull themselves up, learn to walk, and to be protected from more mobile children.


      To uphold the safety of infants and toddlers as well as a minimum level of quality education by ensuring that mixed-age environments are designed to consider their unique needs.


  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      This criterion does not require that infants and toddlers are kept separated from older children.

      When children of varying levels of ability and mobility are together in the same activity space, it is very important the environment is designed with infants and toddlers in mind so they can safely play and explore. This does not mean that infants and toddlers cannot move throughout the ECE activity room, learning alongside older children.

      An infant/toddler space:

      • allows young children the freedom to explore and play in an environment designed especially for them
      • lessens the likelihood of a prone or crawling infant, or a toddler just beginning to find their feet, being accidentally injured by an older child who is fully engaged in their own play and is not aware of their presence
      • provides older children with the opportunity to concentrate and work on a project for a sustained period of time without fear of it being demolished by a young 'helper'
      • means older children can enter the space freely to play and interact with their younger friends or siblings, but do so consciously.