Babies born to 'bad' parents should be taken away from them as soon as possible to stop them being damaged beyond repair, said Barnado's chief executive, Martin Narey.
Aware that his views were likely to be controversial, Mr Narey said that the time had come to accept that it was too late to try and fix many families.
"It sounds terrible but I think we try too hard with birth parents," he said. "We can't keep trying to fix families that are completely broken. If we really cared about the interests of the child, we would take children away as babies and put them into a permanent adoptive families, where we know they will have the best possible outcome."
Mr Narey's comments follow last week's court case involving two boys who pleaded guilty to a violent attack on an 11-year-old boy and his 9-year-old nephew.