Almost every education authority in an in-depth survey is failing to provide teachers with the training needed to understand and use the national Getting It Right for Every Child policy.
An Education Scotland report involving 11 councils found progress with the policy, designed to ensure consistent approaches across all services that protect and support children, "varies significantly".
Authorities have largely bought in to the philosophy behind Girfec, but many school staff - particularly in secondaries - are struggling to adapt, having been given little or no training.
"In almost all authorities in the sample, there is no systematic, ongoing training and development opportunities for education staff to help them understand and use the `Getting it right' approach," the report states.
In a few authorities, school and pre-school heads and deputes have done some training, "but this has not yet impacted significantly on practice". In almost all establishments, other staff "have undertaken little or no training" on Girfec.
Senior managers have a good understanding of Girfec, but "at class teacher and practitioner level, this understanding is not yet well-developed, particularly in the secondary school sector".
Young people in secondary schools feel well supported by staff with pastoral care responsibilities, but, overall, school staff are making "limited use" of the "well-being" indicators designed to identify concerns and assess needs.
A "significant number" of school staff felt the quality of work between different agencies - better joint working is a chief concern of Girfec - "was very much dependent on the practice of individual workers rather than council strategies and policies".
Girfec, which may be given statutory weight as the Children and Young People Bill becomes law, also requires that families have more influence over services they are caught up in, but the report finds families "are not always at the centre of a school's approach to planning and decision- making".
Most further education colleges, meanwhile, find it difficult to get enough information from secondary schools about learners.
Children in Scotland chief executive Jackie Brock said "the report shows that there is still much more to be done in ensuring there is a consistent and systematic adoption of the approach across the country".
Falkirk education director Andrew Sutherland said Girfec was "critical" and "must be adopted by all schools", and that time must be found for training. In-service training in Falkirk this month will attempt to give every teacher a better understanding of Girfec.
A government spokesman said Girfec required "a fundamental shift in how agencies work together", adding: "This is why we are proposing legislation for key elements of Girfec in the Children and Young People Bill, to achieve consistent implementation across Scotland."
Most parents are not aware of Girfec, and there is a perception that different agencies do not always work well together.
Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: "It is the experience of families that matters: that they know professionals are co-operating and co-ordinating the support for their child; that they are involved partners in planning the support; and that the now-familiar scenario of multiple assessments becomes a thing of the past."
Original headline: Not alone: few are taught about Girfec policy