Independent childcare providers say essential workers are struggling to find people to look after their children during the lockdown, and the Government needs to relax its rules.
Last week the government announced it would fund home-based childcare for essential workers who could not arrange their own care.
Initially the government has provided this care through approved home-based agencies Porse, Barnardos and Edubase/Homegrown Kids.
Local childcare provider Rock My Baby director Ursula Maidens said it is disappointing that the government has overlooked the support all licensed home-based providers can provide during lockdown for essential workers in need of urgent childcare.
Maidens said they have had a "massive influx" of inquiries from essential workers and were fielding calls daily.
In Hawke's Bay alone, Rock My Baby has had 35 requests from essential workers who are currently not part of their network.
"We've been absolutely overwhelmed with inquiry, most of which we would be able to fill."
Maidens said finding available and funded childcare was especially tricky on a regional level.
"It's very stressful for them [essential workers] and their children," she said.
"What we are fighting against, however, is the idea that if a family chooses a Rock My Baby educator or nanny, they incur the cost of that themselves under a private arrangement.
"If they choose to go through one of the three chosen providers, the Government funds it for them. It's not fair on the family or the industry and, more than that, it doesn't actually solve the problem of being able to meet demand with supply," she said.
"If they opened it up to all providers it would make it a lot easier for these essential workers to access childcare straight away".
Erin Maloney, director of home-based organisation Tiny Nation, is also frustrated with the situation.
Many of the other home-based childcare providers have nannies who are able and ready to work, she said.
"The biggest issue is that the pace at which these essential workers require childcare needs to be filled cannot be met by three providers," she said.
"The whole sector needs to be able to work together on this if we want to solve the problem," she said.
Maloney said essential workers were suffering because they either can't get childcare needs met, or if they have already organised childcare with another provider prior to the lockdown, would now not have that funded.
"Families that have been proactive in sorting their care arrangements through private arrangements prior to the cut-off last week don't stand to benefit at all from the funding for childcare.
"This leaves some families benefitting from the childcare being fully paid for - if they've gone through one of the three providers - while others are left to foot the cost themselves.
"The inequity that it brings up, that you can only go through one of these three providers to access the funding, what that creates is unfairness all round.
"The essential workers who are on our frontline are the ones who are suffering," she said.
Maloney also said that essential workers who already have childcare providers that they work with, should be able to keep working with them and access the funding.
"That situation should remain status quo and that's the best possible situation for the child and the family. Why would you not want that to continue?"
Essential workers who currently cannot get in at the three funded providers now have to find other non-funded childcare services or get put on a wait list, Maloney said.
The two directors had also heard there was now active poaching of educators happening, which would stop if the funding was extended, Maidens said.