*Are you getting our breaking news alerts and daily newsletter? If you're a subscriber, or thinking about becoming one, sign-up for your free news headlines.
Mid North Coast parents are struggling to secure childcare due to a staff shortage issue.
Port Macquarie resident Vanessa Amos is a solo parent and has a 10-month-old son called Luke.
She's put Luke's name down on waitlists at five childcare centres in Port Macquarie, so she can return to work in January 2023.
Ms Amos has heard from one childcare centre out of the five, who has offered her three days but they aren't her preferred days.
She described the waiting situation as 'stressful'.
"I have to go back to work next year to pay the bills," she said.
Ms Amos doesn't have family based in Port Macquarie who can help support her and Luke.
"I need childcare and I need it at a centre, because I need the flexibility of the longer hours," she said.
Ms Amos said her work has been incredibly supportive of her.
St Joseph's Family Service is part of St Agnes' Parish and acting coordinating manager John McQueen said childcare spaces are 'tight' for 2023.
There are three centres which are part of St Agnes' Parish including St Joseph's Preschool and Long Day Care, St Agnes' Early Education Centre and Joey's House Early Education Centre.
Mr McQueen said they are struggling to attract staff which is driving the waitlist issue.
The Australian Labor Party has announced a $4.7bn policy to further subsidise childcare from July 2023, as part of its plan to improve women's participation in the workforce.
However, Mr McQueen said this incentive does nothing to address the staff shortage issue to ensure demand can be met.
Laurieton Early Education Centre director Julie Davis said they are operating at 50 per cent capacity because they are struggling to attract educators.
"We have the positions (for children) but we don't have the staff," she said.
Lake Cathie Little Learners director Erin Hartland said in one room on Mondays and Fridays they have space for 25 children, but they cap it at 20 because they don't have enough staff to care for 25.
"Everyone is finding it hard to find educators," she said.
Mrs Hartland said Port Macquarie parents are calling her to find out whether she has vacancies.
Ashlee Crow has a 10-month-old son Myles and put his name down on about six waiting lists in February with the intention of going back to work in August.
She managed to secure a childcare centre spot for two days in July.
"We were lucky enough to get him in," she said.
Ms Crow is hoping Myles can pick up a third day at childcare in 2023, which he's on a waitlist for.
She currently depends on family support to care for Myles when she picks up an extra day of work for the week.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.