Ireland has to move to a State-funded childcare model, and away from reliance on the private sector.
That's according to Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik, who says moves in the upcoming budget could have a 'substantial impact' in the area.
It comes as Newstalk research shows some parents looking for childcare are being told there is no availability until 2024.
Ms Bacik told Breakfast Briefing Ireland is out of step with other European countries.
"Our care system, both for children and for older people, is very much reliant on a series of voluntary bodies rather than on State bodies.
"In the childcare sector it's very much reliant on private providers.
"We don't have a State system of childcare that you do in other European countries.
"There's no guarantee that a child of pre-school years will get a place in any early years education and care setting.
"We have this very piecemeal system that is really reliant on voluntary help... and indeed in childcare on private organisations.
"What we're talking about is moving towards a much better system of State supports for care - for the State to fund a model of quality, affordable early years and out of hours childcare".
But she says commitments from the Government may improve things.
"We have been promised by Government that there will be significant additional funding for childcare.
"And indeed there's a commitment to move to a new core funding model for childcare, which would see the State taking a much bigger role and would see the State providing a higher subsidy to childcare providers in return for a freeze on fees for parents.
"That's certainly a very welcome move, and it could have a really substantial impact on improving our care system for children.
"But for older people and persons with disabilities, what we really do need is a very much reformed system - what I've called a New Fair Deal - that would provide much greater supports for those who wish to remain in their homes and to have care provided in their homes".