Six classrooms’ worth of young people are being placed on child protection plans every day, shocking new town hall figures show.
The number of vulnerable youngsters on so-called CPPs - put in place by social services to protect them from harm - has doubled in the last decade, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
The organisation, which represents councils across the country, warned Theresa May the spike in demand has seen local government services “pushed to the brink”.
Dr Ruth Allen, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) warned of a “generational trauma” for children and called for a meeting with the government.
Roy Perry, vice chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, meanwhile, said the pressure on children’s departments was “no longer sustainable”.
He added: “Last week’s care crisis review highlighted the significant pressure on the care system, with the number of applications to take children into care more than doubling over a decade.
“But these new figures demonstrate that the pressure on children’s services goes much deeper, with high risk cases being managed outside of the care system also increasing at an alarming rate.
“Children’s services are being pushed to the brink, and face a funding gap of almost £2 billion by 2020 just to maintain current service levels.”
Perry said the government needed to “commit to fully funding these services so that councils can manage the rising demand for help”, while also providing additional resources to prevent more families reaching crisis-point.
Councils put CCPs, which are coordinated by a social worker, in place to support families when children are believed to be at risk of neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
Some 182 children a day are placed on schemes and around 66,410 plans were started by councils in England during 2016/17, compared to 33,300 in 2006/7.
Dr Allen said the spike in demand for child protection could not be separated from austerity policies.
She told HuffPost UK: “The government needs to see that those social policies on things like welfare benefits, on employment tax credits, housing, also impact the welfare of children.
“It has been well-documented that poorer outcomes for children is linked to reductions in service funding, especially of preventive and early help services, as well as to the wider pressures of poverty and work insecurity among families.
“In the longrun this means generational trauma for children.”
A recent study by BASW, in partnership with Bath Spa University and the Social Workers Union, showed more than half of social workers have thought of leaving their role within 18 months due to “burn-out” because of high caseloads, poor management and long hours.
Allen added: “The volume of referrals, high thresholds and the complexity of need and support for children, families and adults is ever increasing. BASW members are reporting high caseloads, finite resources and not having enough quality time to undertake direct work with the children and families they serve,” says Allen.
“We urge the government to meet collectively with BASW, the LGA and other key organisations to discuss how we put vulnerable children, families and adults at the heart of government funding policy and invest in good quality social work and the social care workforce.”