Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham has described as "stark" the first report on court cases dealing with child care orders.
The report found that one in five of the children concerned have special needs and that neglect is the most common reason for putting children into State care.
It also found that Africans are 20 times more likely than their Irish peers to be subjects of proceedings.
The Chief Justice made her remarks while launching the first Interim Report of the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
It analysed about 10% of the over 3,000 cases that came to court in the eight months up to last August.
Project leader Dr Carol Coulter said the most common reason for putting children into State care is neglect.
She said mental illness or intellectual disability on the part of a parent features in 12% of cases and that one in five of the children have special needs, usually psychological or educational.
Mrs Justice Denham said the report shines a spotlight on these problems and sends a stark message to everyone.