The findings reported here have come from a study of children's services, based on interviews with parents who use child care (formal and/or informal) and with service providers. The report thus presents the issues of services for young children from the perspectives of users/consumers and those of the people who stand between the users and policymakers. The two perspectives are not always the same, thus illustrating the complexities in the provision and use of children's services as well as giving rise to some fundamental issues that warrant consideration by policymakers and administrators. The report raises a number of issues. It also provides an insight into the patterns of daily lives of parents and children in the contemporary Australian families. The study was done in the metropolitan area of Sydney (in late 1982) but there is no reason to believe that the lives of families in the other parts of Australia are different. The most important finding of the study is the extent to which children's services have become part of the normal life for the children who use them and how important these services have become for the functioning of the family unit. The diversity of reasons why parents use child care and the diversity of needs the services seem to meet go well beyond what still appears to be the common perception of the "need" for child care. The findings of the study suggest that the need for child care as something that arises only in certain circumstances and only in some families appears to be a myth. Rather, children's services appear to be used and regarded as a public utility, seen as essential to the functioning of the family unit and increasingly considered as essential to children's development. Until recently, the policies on children's services were based on the assumption that child care outside the family was necessary in unusual rather than in normal family situations. However, the evidence indicates that the provision of services on the selective criteria of "need" in the face of universal need has produced inequitable outcomes, favouring the better off and more articulate middle-class families, to the relative detriment of the lower class families and children, thus maintaining rather than alleviating the inequalities generated in the market.