Early childhood centres say some youngsters are not attending as they don't have food to fuel them through the day.
Demand for KidsCan assistance in early childhood centres is continuing to grow, despite an increasing number of centres being accepted for KidsCan help.
In Hawke's Bay, KidsCan supports 17 early childhood centres, but there are currently another 14 on the waiting list.
The waiting list fluctuates, this time last year there were eight centres waiting for help. When Covid-19 hit another six applied.
KidsCan CEO Julie Chapman said despite expanding the programme to eight more centres in the region this year, there is still a waitlist as more and more centres apply for help.
"Many families are finding things tougher since Covid-19 hit.
"Early childhood teachers are seeing more children turn up without enough food to fuel them through the day, or enough warm clothing.
"We are doing all we can to keep up with demand, but the waiting list just keeps growing."
Every pre-schooler at a KidsCan supported centre receives a fleece-lined jacket, shoes and socks, head lice treatment, and daily healthy lunches and snacks.
One centre which has been on the waiting list since 2019 is Bette Christie Kindergarten in Maraenui, Napier.
Head teacher Olga Peakman said they sometimes have children turn up without food, especially after the weekend or a holiday period.
They also see patterns of absence on a Monday and after holidays, sometimes as many as 10 children of their roll of 38.
"A lot of them were whakamā (ashamed) to actually say anything, or they wouldn't even turn up to kindy on a Monday because they didn't have kai."
Attendance affects the consistency of learning and increasing attendance has been a priority for the centre.
As the kindergarten is behind Richmond School which is already receiving KidsCan, so there would be instances where siblings of the kindergarten children were getting lunches and items such as jackets.
"It just seemed a little bit unfair because learning doesn't start from school age."
It would also mean when it came to issues such as nits, only half of the family would be getting access to the treatment.
The kindergarten has been providing a hauora pack, buying items such as nit spray, toothbrushes and toothpaste for families and also providing food when needed.
It recently found out that it will begin to receive KidsCan support in May.
Now that food, clothing and nit treatment is funded, the kindy will be able to refocus its funding to provide nutrition programmes for the families, provide packs to the families in motels which include items such as books and to have a mindfulness course for the kids.
It will also help to take financial pressure off families.
"The minimum wage isn't enough really to bring up a family, it's just an adult minimum wage it's not for children."
Wairoa Kindergarten head teacher Linda Ojala said her centre has noticed a change in attendance since it began receiving food from KidsCan at the start of term one.
Having the children sharing the same food together at the same time has also benefited the children's relationships with each other, she said.
It has also improved their behaviour, as they are now having healthy meals every day instead of packaged food.
Recently receiving new shoes was exciting for the centre, and one mother told Ojala that her child was so happy that he had slept in them.
She hopes that more companies will come on board to support KidsCan to help more centres.