The Government should look at rewarding "good citizens" to knock on their neighbours' doors and demand why their children are not in school, the Chief Inspector of Education has said.
Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told MPs that, as a former head teacher, he "saw the result of children being brought up badly by their parents" and communities should play more of a role in supporting problem families.
Social workers need more guidance on how to interact with difficult families and if necessary tell them they are bad parents, he said.
"These families need to know that they can't go on treating their children like this, they can't go on behaving in this manner and they've got to hit the targets that are bei ng set by social workers," he said.
"As a headteacher I used to tell parents that they were behaving badly and that they were bad parents.
"It didn't often go down extremely well but nevertheless that was my responsibility and it's a responsibility of social workers."
Sir Michael referred to the "old phrase 'a child is brought up by the village".
He told the Commons Education Committee: "Well, communities have got a big part to play in supporting our most difficult families and most vulnerable children.
"In my experience in the most difficult communities there are always going to be good people who want to help.
"How do you incentivise good citizens, good people, good family members to engage with the most difficult members of society, and that's a policy issue for Government.
"How do you financially incentivise these people to get up in the morning, knock on the neighbours door, and say your children are not up yet, they've not had their breakfast yet, why aren't you taking them to school?
"As an ex-headteacher I saw the result of children being brought up badly by their parents, so society has got to worry about what's happening in families and families in particular parts of the country, and children's services have got a part to play in helping and supporting those families, but families have got a huge part to play and communities have got a huge part to play in supporting children."
Sir Michael, who was appointed Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills in January 2012, was speaking as he appeared at the Commons Education Committee to give evidence on Ofsted's recent report on the state of children's services.
He said that in the wake of high profile cases such as the death of Baby P, children's services have never been under so much pressure.
He said: "The national consciousness of what can go badly wrong in terms of children's services is much greater than it's ever been because of the high profile deaths that have taken place over the past few years, and as a consequence of those tragedies the volume of cases under scrutiny have gone up, and the pressure on children's services have gone up and our inspection frameworks are much more rigorous as a result of that.
"We've also got to worry about the parlous state of children's services throughout the country and worry about those children who don't die and don't hit the headlines but actually are going through miserable lives because they are not being properly supported."