Many parents of school-age children struggle to find suitable childcare, a survey by the Daycare Trust suggests.
A poll of 116 family information services across England, Scotland and Wales found 60% had had parents report a lack of childcare in their area.
Just 28% said there was sufficient childcare for primary pupils locally.
Only 12% said there was suitable provision for parents who worked shifts and just 11% said there was cover for the parents of disabled children.
"The availability of childcare for school-age children remains low," said the report for the childcare charity.
"Only 28% of family information services are saying that sufficient childcare exists across their entire local authority for primary school age.
"For secondary school age children the picture is even worse, with just 14% reporting sufficient childcare in the whole authority."
The survey also questioned family information services about the cost of childcare for pre-school children.
It found the average annual cost for 25 hours of nursery care a week for a child under the age of two was £5,032 in England, £5,220 in Scotland and £4,723 in Wales.
For a child minder, the same provision was £4,680 in England, £4,665 in Scotland and £4,687 in Wales.
The research suggests costs vary considerably between regions and within regions.
Not surprisingly, London and the South East were the most expensive areas for childcare.
In London, the average weekly cost for 25 hours nursery care for a child under two is £118.54 (equating to £6,164 per year).
In the North West is £82.70 a week (£4,300 per year).
Acting chief executive of the Daycare Trust Anand Shukla said: "We are very concerned to see that many local authorities appear to be failing in their duty to provide adequate childcare.
"It is startling that only 11% have sufficient childcare in place for disabled children."
Mr Shukla also expressed concern about high childcare fees.
"When parents sit down to calculate their family finances and see childcare costs increasing far faster than their wages, it is no wonder they may think twice about the economic sense of staying in work.
"These high, rapidly rising costs are particularly significant given the number of people not receiving cost-of-living pay increases this year, the increase in VAT and rising costs of other household goods, particularly food and fuel.
"It is crucial that childcare is as affordable as possible."
The Daycare Trust sent surveys to 200 family information services in November 2010 and 116 (58%) responded.