Recent updates as part of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 came into effect late last year. While much of the revised act focuses on child to caregiver ratios for licensed and unlicensed care providers, there were also some overall updates and modernization to the regulations surrounding outdoor play. These changes were implemented to ensure that adequate space for play and learning in an outdoor environment is made available to all children, so they can connect with the natural world and begin to develop an interest in physical activity.
In order to ensure that your child care centre complies with all requirements, offers a safe environment for children to play and provides children with sufficient time for outdoor activity, here are the regulations:
Your Outdoor Play Space
- If your child care centre operates for 6 or more hours each day, you must have an outdoor play space that contains at least 5.6 square meters (or 60 square feet) for each child based on your licensed capacity.
- A ground level playground, adjacent to your centre must be provided unless other arrangements are approved by a director (for example, a rooftop play space). This playground must be designed in such a way that your staff can maintain constant supervision of the area and children.
- There must be a designated space for the storage of any outside play equipment.
- Each fenced outdoor play area is limited to 64 children. If your centre’s licensed capacity allows for more than 64 children, you may have multiple fenced play areas, provided they have sufficient space and supervision.
- If your play area is used by infants, toddlers or preschoolers, it must be surrounded by a fence that it is at least 1.2 metres (4 ft) high. The fence must be in good condition (no splintering, holes or sharp areas) and be safe for children. There can be no gaps between fences and building structures to ensure the safety of all children.
- Play area gates should be securely shut at all times.
- If a child care facility is located within a school and cares for children aged 4 and up, the centre is considered part of the school and must adhere to any outdoor play area requirements that apply to the school as a whole.
Required Outdoor Play
- Any staff to child ratios applicable to your facility must be maintained during all outdoor play time.
- All children who receive care for six hours or more in a single day must spend at least two hours outdoors, weather permitting, each day unless a parent or doctor advises otherwise in writing.
Will these new daycare outdoor play regulations impact your daycare facility? For more about the regulations outlined above, explore the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.