Councils have overspent their budgets for protecting vulnerable children by more than half a billion pounds according to the latest figures - and the gap is set to grow.
The Local Government Association (LGA) warns the shortfall has been caused by Whitehall spending cuts coupled with an 'unprecedented' need for services.
It says more than 170,000 children were subject to child protection enquiries in 2015/16, compared to 71,800 in 2005/06 – a 140% increase in just 10 years.
The LGA is warning that pressure on children’s services is mounting, with a £2bn funding gap expected by 2020.
It says money-saving early intervention is increasingly impossible because councils are being forced to use limited funds to provide urgent help for children and families already in crisis.
It is demanding urgent action by the Government to inject more money and reduce the number of families relying on social care.
Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: 'The reality is that services for the care and protection of vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point.
'Government must commit to the life chances of children and young people by acting urgently to address the growing funding gap.'
Writing in The MJ this week, iMPOWER’s children’s services director, Olly Swann, warned there were daily scenarios where there were no placements available anywhere in the country for children who needed care and protection.