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Health and safety

What is happening now?

When a home-based ECE service is first licensed, the Ministry will check at least two homes for compliance with health and safety.  The Ministry also checks homes when there has been a complaint about a service or if a service has received an ERO category 1 or 2 report[6].

Home-based services can switch homes between licences.  They can also take homes on and off a licence without checks from the Ministry.  There is no requirement for services to inform the Ministry when homes are added or removed from a licence.  The only requirement is to provide the Ministry with a list of homes at the initial licensing of a home-based service and when the Ministry requests it. 

As part of licensing, a home-based ECE service must also obtain safety checks, which includes police vetting.  The Education Act requires police vets for all adults (a person aged 17 years and over) who are, or may be in the educator’s home when home-based ECE is being provided. 

Home-based services must meet a number of health and safety requirements while operating.  The coordinator is responsible for overseeing the health and safety of the children, as well as providing professional leadership and support to educators.  Educators are directly responsible for the health and safety of children in their care, whether they are in the home of the educator, or in the home of the child. 

A recent analysis of ERO reports for 62 home-based services reviewed in 2017/18 identified compliance concerns in 22 of these services.  Areas of non-compliance related to health and safety included:

  • risk management for excursions
  • ensuring consistent implementation of systems to monitor educators’ health and safety records
  • notifying a specific agency and the Ministry of Education when there is a serious injury or illness or incident involving a child while at the service
  • meeting police vetting requirements
  • administering medicines
  • ensuring educators have first aid certificates prior to commencing educator responsibilities.

Why is it a problem?

The Government has limited oversight of health and safety in home-based ECE.  The large number of homes within home-based networks means it is not practical for every home to be checked.  This means it is important to have strong systems and processes to ensure children’s safety in home-based networks. 

Educators and coordinators may lack understanding of the regulations and licensing criteria and how it relates to their role.  It has been reported that educators are not always aware of their health and safety responsibilities.

The Education Act requires police vets for adults who are, or may be, in the home where home-based ECE is being provided.  The Education Act is also being interpreted as excluding adults who live at the educator’s home but are not likely to be present when ECE is being provided.

What changes are we proposing and why?

  • Require each licence to list the homes on that licence.

Service providers would be required to change their licence to add or remove homes in a service.  This would give the Ministry more oversight of each licence and prevent service providers from swapping homes between licences to avoid licensing checks or ERO visits.

  • Clarify in the Education Act 1989 that police vets are required on all adults who may live and/or be present in the home.

This means all adults who come into contact, or may come into contact, with children need to be police vetted.  This will give services greater oversight of all adults who may come into contact with children in a service.

  • Include health and safety training as part of the requirements for coordinators and educators

Service providers would need to provide training for coordinators and educators on how to understand and apply the health and safety regulations and criteria. 

  • Include health and safety training as part of the minimum qualification requirements for becoming an educator. 

This change would provide educators with a base knowledge of health and safety requirements. 

What we would like from you

We are seeking your views about the proposed changes to health and safety in home-based ECE. 

Parents

What changes or improvements would you like to see made to health and safety in your child’s home-based service?

Educators

What do you think about the current health and safety requirements?

How would the proposed changes to health and safety support you in your role?

Service providers

How would the proposed changes to health and safety affect you?

 


[6] ERO has four differentiated ratings for early learning services. ERO category 1 and category 2 reports correspond to judgements of ‘not well placed’ and ‘requires further development’ respectively. Category 3 and 4 reports correspond to judgements of ‘well placed’ and ‘very well placed’.