Offering all three and four year olds in Northern Ireland a year of pre-school does not go far enough to help working parents.
That is according to a National Education Union (NEU) report comparing early years education in Denmark and Northern Ireland.
The union also found the early years sector had been "undervalued", although that was changing.
Business groups have previously highlighted the high cost of childcare.
Research from Ulster University in 2020 suggested that childcare costs for families in Northern Ireland were among the highest in Europe.
About 60% of three and four-year-old children in Northern Ireland currently get 12.5 hours of funded pre-school education a week, which is distinct from childcare.