The past year's disruptions to classrooms are expected to increase the experience of poverty for students who have already faced disadvantages.
According to the findings of the Smith Family survey, childhood poverty has been exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic restrictions, with the expectation it will compound further in 2021.
"We're expecting it will get worse," said Olga Srbovski, regional program manager for ACT/NSW.
"Many of the families we're seeing were already in disadvantage. It takes a lot to step out of that even when things get better economically."
The main concern for teams in the Riverina and other regional parts of the state is potentially falling away of students following the lockdown.
Students who have spent considerable time outside of the classroom, Ms Srbovski said, are far less likely to return to a structured, routine school day.
"Many students have fallen behind [and] it will take a lot of time to get back to where they were," Ms Srbovski said.
Up to 76 per cent of the 1000 respondents to the survey indicated that they believe 2020 had made it harder for struggling students to progress with their education.
"[In the Riverina] you have students struggling to do school work without reliable access to a laptop, in some cases," Ms Srbovski said.
"You have families that were trying to home-school one, two or three children while they may have lost their job or while they've been isolated and disconnected from their wider families."
Rebuilding the momentum for success, Ms Srbovski said, is made harder in areas like the Riverina because there are often vast distances involved with accessing support.
"Issues are different in metropolitan areas, there are a lot of services to link to for support," she said.
"That isolation we see regionally we don't see as much in cities. Regionally, the services are doing good things but they are stretched."
To address the problem at a local level, the Smith Family will again deploy two teams of workers to manage the Learning For Life program.
Across Wagga's schools, the program reaches 1200 students.
Similarly, through Mount Austin High School, the Girls at the Centre program team has been attempting to curb the rates of high school absenteeism among 75 students.
But in order to increase the support systems this year, the Smith Family is looking to boost its national sponsors by more than 9000.
"Sponsors are linked to a child and follow their journey through to year 12," Ms Srbovski said.
"Your donation helps with the material needs, uniforms, shoes, book packs, excursions."
If an ongoing sponsorship is not possible, Ms Srbovski said the national team are also looking for people to make one-off donations to ease the back-to-school pressure on struggling families.
"If you're a parent, you know how expensive it can be at the beginning of the year. It can be quite daunting," she said.