Social workers, education and law enforcement workers in England are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of complex growing need, according to Barnardo's.
The children's charity says the causes include increased poverty and lack of mental health services, and a crisis in the professionals' confidence in their ability to provide the support needed.
Nearly two thirds of those responding to a YouGov poll for Barnardo’s said they had seen an increase in overall numbers of particularly vulnerable children in the past five years, while a full two thirds of those said it is because of a shortfall in early intervention.
Barnardo's says the polling confirms anecdotal evidence of a rising number of cases of children with multiple vulnerabilities including early trauma, neglect, grooming, sexual abuse, exploitation and involvement in gangs.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said the survey results were 'a real wake up call'.
'With less and less resource for early intervention and long waits for specialist mental health services, we are in danger of failing a generation of vulnerable children who face a future without hope,' he said.
'It’s also a false economy – young people who don’t get help now will develop far deeper and more costly problems in the future.'