Rather than expecting professionals to "raise our most marginalised children", there is a "need to change how we think and what we do" to help them, according to Cormac Russell, managing director of the Nurture Development organisation.
The community regeneration expert is to raise the issue when he delivers the Children 1st annual lecture to an audience of policy makers, professionals and community volunteers in Glasgow this evening.
At a time when Scotland is looking at its constitutional future in the run-up to the referendum, it is "timely for everyone to stand back and consider what really matters", Mr Russell argued.
Often vulnerable youngsters are seen as a "problem to be fixed", he said.
"We don't ask them enough how they feel, and when we do the response is often heart-rending. They want to feel safe, wanted and welcomed. Yet, what we do with the most vulnerable children, and Scotland is no exception, is pay professionals to care for them. But care is not a commodity. It can't be traded, bought or paid for.
"We, that's individuals, communities and society, have effectively outsourced our responsibility to our children. Yet, those responsibilities to nurture and to love our children are fundamental to a healthy society.
"My message to Scotland tonight is that we need to change how we think and what we do."
"All children need strong, capable, loving communities. We need to stop exiling them to institutions, expecting professionals to unilaterally raise our most marginalised children. A good childhood cannot be created by professional systems. It is simply not within their gift."