Early learning regulatory changes to better protect children

Over the next six months, changes from tranche one of the Early Learning Regulatory Review will come into effect across three key dates. This is the first of three tranches, announced in 2020. 

We designed the changes to close gaps in the regulatory system to better protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our youngest tamariki and to respond to changes that have impacted early learning over the last decade. 

The eleven proposals under tranche one received majority support. Public and sector consultation in late 2020 and early 2021 shaped the regulations and licensing criteria into clear, sensible and transparent requirements and helped us understand the guidance and support services needed to implement the changes. 

Services, whānau and communities should become familiar with the changes taking place over the next six months. In August, we will provide further information, including draft guidance for the licensing criteria requiring services to have regard for the National Education and Learning Priorities (the NELP). 

If you have any queries about these changes, you can contact your local Ministry office or EarlyLearning.RegulatoryReview@education.govt.nz 

Tranche one licensing criteria amendments

From 31 August 2021, the minimum room temperature required in early learning services increases from 16 degrees to 18 degrees Celsius in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

From 1 January 2022, services will also be required to have regard for the NELP in both their annual plan and recorded outcomes from self-review and internal evaluations.

Tranche one regulation amendments: 30 July 2021

The following amendments come into effect on 30 July 2021 and provide the Ministry with additional tools to manage non-compliance to ensure children’s health, safety and wellbeing, as well as clarifying existing requirements:

  • enabling the Secretary to reclassify a service’s licence as provisional following an incident involving a child that the Secretary considers warrants investigation
  • creating the ability to issue a written direction requiring a service to remedy an immediate health and safety risk
  • allowing the Ministry to immediately suspend a service’s licence if the licensed early learning service is no longer under the control of its licensed service provider
  • clarifying that the fee for a new licence is payable upon application and is non-refundable
  • consolidating existing person responsible requirements
  • removing the requirement for a service provider to return their current licence if reclassified as provisional and the corresponding ability to suspend a licence if the licence is not returned.

Tranche one regulation amendments: 1 February 2022

The following changes come into effect from 1 February 2022. Over the next six months we will work with you to develop a clear and transparent process and provide sufficient time for you to account for these changes:

  • creating a cancellation pathway based on a service’s provisional licence history
  • clarifying the provisions for licence amendments when the service provider changes
  • clarifying the information used to assess an application for a probationary licence.

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