Parents are struggling to pay household bills because of the high cost of childcare and after-school care, according to the children's charity Barnardos.
A conference is taking place in Dublin today, to discuss what can be learned from the Scandinavian model of childcare.
Barnardos said Ireland needs to spend ten times as much as the country currently does if it is to match the level of care seen in Scandinavian countries.
The charity's CEO, Fergus Finlay, said the quality of care needs to be improved vastly as well.
He said: "It is not enough to put the emphasis on affordability, certainly child care needs to be much more accessible and affordable, but it also needs to have much higher quality.
"At the moment, the vast majority of childcare provision in Ireland is provided by untrained people who have no expectations of a career in childcare.
"That is not producing the right outcomes either."