Changes in family structure and patterns of parental employment have resulted in a greater and changing need for early childhood services. The current, often fragmented system of services frequently fails to meet this need. New initiatives are emerging in response, but we need a more comprehensive policy and research agenda that reflects today's society. Particular ideologies about non-parental care have restricted our ability to develop a new approach. This paper argues for a new policy and research agenda for early childhood services, and looks critically at those ideologies that have dominated the field.