Thousands of children are starting school already behind the pace in the New England because of the state's worst childcare shortage, according to a new report.
The division of New England has the lowest levels of access in NSW, and among the biggest "childcare deserts" in the country, according to new analysis from Victoria University's Mitchell Institute.
For every childcare place in the electorate, there are four children eligible for it, the report said. It was a similar figure for the Parkes electorate.
About one in four children in the New England are considered "developmentally vulnerable" but 70.6 per cent of them live in a "childcare desert".
And in Parkes, more than a quarter of the children are identified as "developmentally vulnerable" and slightly more than half live in a "childcare desert". It did however offer the cheapest fees of all electorates at $9.45 per hour, the New England only five cents more, and compared to the most expensive at $14.45 in Wentworth.
Earlier this year, a local childcare educator explained there was a huge demand for early education and not enough spaces available, with a particular concern for zero to three-year-olds.
Little Kindy company director Arzal Arzal said many city-based companies will shrink from providing childcare because it is difficult to manage from a distance.
"I think some areas are undersupplied and some areas are oversupplied," he said.
Education Policy Fellow at the Mitchell Institute, Hannah Matthews, said the biggest problem in rural areas is that government doesn't centrally plan childcare like other education.
"Our research is showing that childcare services are in high supply in inner city electorates where fees for childcare are much higher," she said.
"The sector is also facing a shortage of workers with vacancy rates almost doubling since 2019."
Of the 1.1 million Australians with no access to centre-based day care within a twenty-minute drive, almost all of them are outside Australia's major cities, the report shows.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.