Social services are seeing more than 560 cases of children with mental health disorders every day – an increase of more than 50 per cent in just four years, the LGA reveals today.
Latest figures show there were 205,720 cases where a child was identified as having a mental health issue in 2017/18, compared with 133,600 in 2014/15 – up 54 per cent.
The LGA is warning of a “children’s mental health crisis” as councils struggle to cope with enormous levels of demand for children with mental illness.
Ahead of the LGA’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth this week, council leaders are calling for the Government to inject desperately needed funding into children’s services, which face a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025, in the Spending Review.
Early intervention services such as children’s centres and family support services, play a vital role in supporting children before problems become more serious later on.
However, having lost 60p out of every £1 they had from central government to run services in the past decade, many are having to strip back or even end altogether some of these services, as a result of the high levels of demand to support children in care.
There are currently 75,420 children in the care of councils, who since 2010 have also overseen an 84 per cent increase of children on child protection plans to keep them safe from harm.
This level of care is a significantly higher cost for councils. The funding pressures are so great that nine in 10 councils are being forced to overspend their children’s social care budgets.
In addition, public health services, which also support a child’s early development, have seen cuts of £700 million to their budgets over five years.
The LGA says it is essential all these services are properly funded if councils are to give children the care and support they need, and prevent them from developing mental illness.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils strive to make sure that every child gets the best start in life and is able to go on and live a healthy, safe and prosperous life.
“It is clear we are facing a children’s mental health crisis, and councils are struggling to provide the support young people so desperately need.
“Significant funding pressures in children’s services and public health mean many councils are being forced to cut some of the vital early intervention services which can support children with low level mental health issues and avoid more serious problems in later life.
“It is absolutely vital that the Government adequately funds these services in this year’s Spending Review, so we can tackle this urgent crisis and make sure children get the help they need. It is the least they deserve and the consequences of not tackling this crisis now can be devastating for young people and their families.”