Certification criteria for playgroups

The Education Act 1989 S 309 defines a playgroup as a group that meets on a regular basis to facilitate children's play and in respect of which—

  1. no child attends for more than 4 hours on any day; and
  2. more than half the children attending on any occasion have a parent or caregiver present in the same play area at the same time; and
  3. the total number of children attending on any occasion is not greater than 4 times the number of parents and caregivers present in the same play area at the same time.

Playgroups include Puna Kōhungahunga, cultural playgroups and community language playgroups.

Playgroups are certificated in accordance with the Education Act 1989 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, which prescribe minimum standards that each certificated playgroup must meet. Certification criteria are used to assess how playgroups meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

The certification criteria were last updated in May 2016.

A copy of the certification criteria can be downloaded from the right-hand column below.

For each criterion there is guidance to help playgroups meet the required standards.

Licensing Criteria Cover

MA6 Safety Checking

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      [PAID WORKERS ONLY]

      All children’s workers who have access to children are safety checked in accordance with the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

      Safety checks must be undertaken and the results obtained before the worker has access to children.

      The results of the safety checks must be recorded and the record kept as long as the person is employed at the service.

      Every children’s worker must be safety checked every three years. Safety checks may be carried out by the employer or another person or organisation acting on their behalf.

      Documentation required:

      1. A written procedure for safety checking all children’s workers before they have access to children that meets the safety checking requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014; and
      2. A record of all safety checks and the results.

      Intent:

      Consistent robust safety checking helps assess whether people might pose a risk to children.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      Who needs to be safety checked?

      The Vulnerable Children Act specifies who needs to be safety checked. You can read this in section 23 of the Vulnerable Children Act.

      In Playgroups, only paid supervisors or coordinators need to be safety checked.  Volunteers, for example parents attending with their children, do not need to be safety checked.

      The safety check must be completed by the employing organisation (which may be the Playgroup itself). The Playgroup needs to confirm that the safety check has been completed if the safety check has been done by the employing organisation.

      All people employed or engaged as a children’s worker must be safety checked prior to starting work according to the timeframes specified below. This includes contractors and those whose work is undertaken as part of an educational or vocational training course.

      All new core children’s workers must be safety checked prior to employment commencing. From 1 July 2016, new non-core children’s workers must be safety checked.

      Other key dates are:

      ByYou must safety check all:
      1 July 2018 Existing core children’s workers
      1 July 2019 Existing non-core children’s workers

      Periodic rechecking must be done every 3 years.

      Components of the safety check

      Full requirements for safety checking are set out in the Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015.

      Safety checking includes the collection and consideration of a range of information about the person.

      A safety check is made up of 7 components:

      1. verification of identity (including previous identities)
      2. an interview
      3. information about work history
      4. referee information
      5. information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body
      6. a New Zealand police vet
      7. a risk assessment.

      The risk assessment involves an evaluation of all information collected to assess if there is any risk to the children’s safety. For example, is a driving offence relevant to the requirements of the role or going to pose a risk to children? Would this information mean you should or shouldn’t employ or engage the person?

      The Children’s Action Plan (CAP) publication Safer recruitment, safer children [PDF; 3.13MB] provides best practice guidance and Children’s worker safety checking under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 [PDF, 1.2 MB] provides advice for organisations interpreting and applying the safety checking regulations.

      A safety check of a new children’s worker requires all 7 components to be completed.

      A safety check of an existing children’s worker requires the following 4 of the 7 components to be completed:
      1.   verification of identity (including previous identities),
      5.   information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body,
      6.   a New Zealand police vet, and
      7.   a risk assessment.

      Periodic rechecking of all children’s workers requires the following 4 of the 7 components to be completed:
      1.   that the person hasn’t changed their name and if so reconfirmation of their identity,
      5.   information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body,
      6.   a New Zealand police vet, and
      7.   a risk assessment.

      Registered teachers

      Playgroup supervisors/coordinators who are registered teachers will be police vetted by the Education Council as part of issuing and renewing the person’s practising certificate.

      If the Education Council has issued or renewed a practising certificate, they will have considered them to have a satisfactory vet. Playgroups can choose to rely on this or carry out their own police vet.

      More information is available on the Police Vetting page.

      The employing organisation must carry out all of the other components of the safety checking process for registered teachers. 

      It must also:

      • meet the teacher in person
      • check a primary identification document
      • check a specified form of photographic identification
      • check that the name on the practising certificate matches the name on the person’s identity documentation
      • check the Education Council’s online register (http://www.educationcouncil.org.nz/search-the-register) for the latest updates to the teacher’s registration and practising certificate status
      • undertake a risk assessment.

      When do people need to be safety checked?

      You cannot employ or engage a person as a new children’s worker until the safety check has been completed. 

      Playgroups / employers cannot rely on a safety check done by a different employer (either current or previous) as the check was not done on their behalf. They must carry out all of the components themselves.

      After 1 July 2018 you cannot continue to employ an existing core children’s worker until the safety check has been completed. 

      After 1 July 2019 you cannot continue to employ an existing non-core children’s worker until the safety check has been completed. 

      Periodic rechecking must be done every 3 years.

      Umbrella organisation carrying out safety checks

      If an organisation (for example a church or the Salvation Army) doing the safety checks is the employer for staff at multiple playgroups, then any of their playgroups  can use the children’s workers who have been safety checked by that employer.

      Relying on safety checking completed by another organisation on your behalf

      Where some or all components of the safety check have been completed by another organisation on a service’s behalf, the playgroup or employing organisation is responsible for confirming that these components have been completed, and that a full safety check has been done.

      If the playgroup  chooses to rely on a safety check completed on their behalf, we recommend that they:

      • Seek permission from the person who is being safety checked for the information to be shared.  Permission could be sought by the person or organisation completing the safety check before it is undertaken, or by the playgroup prior to requesting the information. 
      • Prior to the safety check, obtain confirmation from the person or organisation that they are undertaking the safety check on your behalf.
      • Obtain in writing from the person or organisation completing the safety check that they have done this to the standard set out in the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.
      • Complete the identity check and risk assessment for all children’s workers, even if these have already been completed by another person or organisation.
      • Keep records about the safety checking of children’s workers they engage or employ.

      Responsibility for safety checking always rests with the employing or contracting organisation.  This means playgroup should exercise due diligence when relying on checks undertaken by others.  Things to consider include:

      • How long ago the safety check was done
      • The purpose of the safety check that was done (for example what role).

      Workforce restriction and core worker exemption

      The Vulnerable Children Act introduces a new children’s workforce restriction, which prohibits Playgroups from employing or engaging people with a specified offence as core workers, unless they hold a Core Worker Exemption.

      A specified offence means an offence identified in Schedule 2 of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

      You can read more about the workforce restriction here.

      Individuals prohibited from being employed or engaged in a core worker role under the workforce restriction can apply for a Core Worker Exemption.

      Employers will be able to confirm whether a person holds a Core Worker Exemption.

      Short-term emergencies

      Playgroups may employ a children’s worker they have previously police vetted and whose vet is current, without completing the remaining components of the safety check, to manage short-term emergencies.

      If a Playgroup considers that an emergency or unexpected situation has arisen that increases risks to children, they may engage or employ a children’s worker to reduce those risks without completing all components of the safety check, forup to 5 consecutive working days, as long as the employee has a current police vet.

      However, in the interests of children’s safety, we recommend that Playgroups begin the full safety checking process as soon as possible in an emergency or unexpected situation.

      Documentation guidance:

      Under Section 39(3) of the Vulnerable Children Act, service providers are required to be able to provide details on any safety check done on a person and their work history including:

      1. how their identity was confirmed
      2. all information provided during the safety check
      3. the risk assessment, and
      4. the date or dates on which the person was engaged or employed by the organisation, and
      5. the nature of the work the person was/is engaged in.

      The result of the safety check is confidential and the service provider and only those staff delegated with responsibilities that would require them to access the information should be able to do so.

      Information needs to be stored appropriately. Typically, screening information will be kept on a person’s personnel file. Files should be stored in a secure location with access only available for appropriate staff.

      The information can be retained for as long as it is required for a lawful purpose but once it is no longer needed, should either be destroyed or returned to the person (as appropriate).