The Local Government Association says 90 kids entered the care system every day last year, sending children’s services hurtling towards a £2 billion funding gap by 2020.
According to the council body’s findings the number in care hit a new high of 72,670 in 2016-17, up from 70,440 the year before.
In addition, 32,810 youngsters entered the care system, and started to be looked after. This figure is up 2 per cent on 2016.
The LGA warned that the increase represents the biggest annual rise of children in care in seven years and that stretched children’s services are facing increasing pressure.
It will present its findings at its National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth today.
Councillor Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Children’s services are at a tipping point with growing demand for support combining with ongoing council funding pressures to become unsustainable.”
He said the rising numbers entering care meant “our calls for urgent funding to support these children are becoming increasingly urgent.”
Mr Watts added: “If nothing is done to address this funding gap, crucial services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on will be put at risk.
“We are calling on the government to use the Autumn Budget to commit to fully funding children’s services and invest in improving services to ensure vulnerable children get the appropriate support and protection they need.”
LGA also called for money to be diverted from a Department for Education allocation for “improvement and innovation.”