The last remaining childcare places in Scone have been filled, a trend attributed to higher carer training requirements, a growing population and more parents both working.
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Lee Watts said the council began assessing care availability about three years ago when the shortage was first identified.
Cr Watts said the town had long waiting lists.
The council-run 46-place early learning centre had a waiting list of 110, family day care services 140 and Scone's preschool an estimated 100.
"There would be some duplication with families registering for more than one place but this also does not take into account the numbers that have either given up and would like child care or those who use families and friends," Cr Watts said.
Cr Watts said places started to fill to capacity about three years ago.
"Childcare has been an issue for the Upper Hunter Shire for some time in all major towns, especially Scone and Merriwa," she said.
"The growing need for childcare has come about by a growing population and by a large percentage of both parents working.
"The growth of the mining-related industries in the region and relatively low unemployment is adding to the pressure on childcare services."
The council took over the town's former ABC learning centre when the company collapsed.
Cr Watts said the council would not provide new places but it would help new carers to establish services in Scone if they met the required standards.
Meanwhile, new ratios of staff to children under 24 months in childcare centres has now come into effect.
An industry expert says the changes, which began on January 1, will cost parents less than a cup of coffee.
The reforms ensure there is one staff member for every four babies rather than one to every five.
Early Childhood Australia chief executive Pam Cahir said the reforms were significant and with federal rebates would cost between $1.50 to $2.50 or $3 a day extra.
"That is less than the cost of a cup of coffee," Ms Cahir said.
"There will be pressure on wages but so there should be.
"It is not fair for people to be able to work on the back of poor workers. It is affordable."
Childcare services will now be rated after assessment under a new National Quality Standard.