The Executive needs to prioritise the provision of good quality, affordable childcare in the North, according to a study published today by NICMA the Childminding Association.
A poll - the first of its kind in the North - showed that more than four fifths of those surveyed [83%] wanted the Executive to put provision of good childcare at the top of their 'to do' list.
A similar proportion [81%] wanted ministers to take action to tackle the ongoing shortage of childminders.
Even more people - 91% - want the Executive to introduce mandatory basic training for registered childminders in the North - as is required in England and Wales.
Bridget Nodder, NICMA's director, said: "This survey demonstrates that childcare is regarded as a crucial issue by voters. Yet, today, the Executive hasn't given childcare the priority it deserves.
"We hope that politicians will listen to the clear message that's coming from the voters and take tangible action to expand and improve childcare provision."
The survey - carried out for the association by Ipsos MORI - found high backing [87%] for childminders to have insurance as a requirement to be registered.
Some 83% backed the introduction of a special package of start-up assistance for new childminders, including individual advice and financial help.
Ms Nodder said: "We are lobbying politicians on all these proposals and it's good to know that the public cares about these issues as much as we do.
"One of the most significant findings of this survey was that it revealed widespread support right across society for action on childcare - in terms of gender, social class and religious tradition.
"We believe politicians are underestimating the level of public interest in childcare - and we hope this will stimulate them to give it the priority it deserves."
The poll found that of parents surveyed who had recently looked for childcare, 30% found the search difficult and 17% very difficult.
Parents in rural areas were the most likely to have problems with childcare.