Licensing, Health Reports and Setting up a New Early Learning Service

Early Learning Services (ELS) include kindergartens, playcentres, kohanga reo, and pre-schools. 

ELS are found in a variety of settings, each with structural and organisational differences, and varying philosophies and learning environments. This includes centre-based ELS, hospital-based ELS, kindergartens, playcentres, playgroups, and home-based ELS.

Health Protection Officers assess and inspect ELS to ensure staff and children are provided with a healthy environment.

The main health issues that Health Protection Officers look at are immunisation registers, food hygiene, safety and suitability of play equipment, general cleanliness and upkeep of the ELS, and methods of controlling the spread of disease in the ELS.

An ELS health report is required before the Ministry of Education will issue a license to operate. Health Protection Officers carry out this service for Toi Te Ora Public Health and can provide information to owners and managers of ELS.

It is advisable when establishing a new ELS that you inform the Health Protection Officer in your area so that public health advice can be included early on in the planning phase.

A health inspection for a license does incur a cost, although pre-inspection visits and follow up inspections are free of charge.

Contact a Health Protection Officer on 0800 221 555 for more advice and information on health inspections of ELS. Read Pre-licencing information on Health and Safety in Early Learning Services for more information.

The Ministry of Health has produced Nga Kupu Oranga: a health and safety resource for early learning services. This document gives guidance on how to keep children safe and healthy while attending their ELS. The resource also provides key elements of procedures and policy. Toi Te Ora recommends that all ELS have a copy of this resource.