Early childhood centres

Early childhood centres include kindergartens, playcentres, kohanga reo, and preschools.

Health protection officers inspect early childhood centres to ensure that staff and children are provided with a safe environment. 

Licensing, health reports, and setting up a new early childhood centre

A health report is required before the Ministry of Education will issue a license for an early childhood centre to operate.  The health report can be obtained from Population Health. Further information on this service can be found in the Guidelines for Early Childhood Centres. [PDF, 2.8 MB]

Contact a health protection officer on (07) 838 2569 for more advice and information on health inspections of early childhood centres.  A health inspection incurs a cost.

The Ministry of Education(external link) provides information on establishing an early childhood centre on its website.

Infection control

Infectious diseases such as Giardia and Norovirus can spread through early childhood centres quite rapidly. This is because of the close contact between people and the under-developed hygiene habits of children.

There are several steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of infections, a brief summary of these include:

  1. Encourage children to wash their hands after using the toilet, after blowing their nose, after playing with animals, and before they eat. Hand-washing is the best way of preventing the spread of many diseases.
  2. Keep children away from the centre while they are sick. 
  3. Thorough cleaning needs to be carried out on a regular basis with an effective cleaner and a sanitiser.
  4. No one suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should attend a centre until they are symptom free for 24-48 hours (unless the vomiting is known to be caused by a non-infectious condition such as car sickness); this includes staff.  Some early childhood centres may have a policy of excluding children for 48 hours. Health protection officers can provide expert advice on how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Ph: (07) 838 2569.

Further information about managing illness in early childhood centres [PDF, 875 KB] 

Example of an illness policy  [PDF, 448 KB]


The Ministry of Health recommends that children are immunised against:

  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus Influenzae type B (HIB)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (Whooping cough)
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus

While parents may choose not to have their children immunised against any or all of these illnesses, early childhood centres are required by law to hold a register which clearly identifies the immunisation status of all the children.

This is to help protect children in the event of a disease outbreak in the centre.  Health protection officers and the medical officers of health must be able to access the immunisation register at any time.

Links to registers


To order free health resources for your early childhood centre visit the HealthEd website(external link) or call Population Health. There are a number of different health topics including communicable disease, immunisation, and children’s health, available.