The prohibitive cost of childcare means less well-paid parents are often no better off going to work than if they stay at home, according to the survey of more than 150 parents by Save The Children.
The charity has compiled 10 key issues they want addressed in the Children and Young People Bill which is going through Holyrood.
They include a focus on development, addressing the high cost and variable availability of childcare, helping parents back to work or education, help with the work and childcare balance, and more flexible childcare and employment.
The charity said: "The prohibitive cost of childcare is the key issue.
"For families on low incomes they simply don't earn enough to cover their childcare bill, as well as living costs making work an unrealistic option."
Save the Children wants the Scottish Government to use the Bill to give families a right to high-quality, affordable and flexible childcare.
Children's Minister Aileen Campbell said: "This report gives an insight into the challenges faced by parents in accessing suitable child-care. It shows why we are right to give children more free and flexible nursery hours, by 2014, to help get children's learning off to the best start and help parents back into a job or training."