Charity 4Children has said the record number of children in the care system is an "avoidable tragedy".

Last month local authorities made 903 applications to protect children from neglect or abuse - the highest since the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) was set up in 2001.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said: "The huge rise in the number of children taken into care by local authorities is an avoidable tragedy that we cannot ignore. The increasing numbers of families who are facing crisis because of problems such as drug or alcohol abuse and domestic violence suggests that we are not helping parents overcome their difficulties early enough.

"Research for our latest campaign, Give Me Strength, revealed huge public support for a more preventative approach to family support with 95 per cent of people believing that families in crisis are capable of turning their lives around with the right help.

"We have to ensure, in the current economic climate, that when cuts are made by local authorities they see to it that the most vulnerable children receive practical help and support early to strengthen families and help them develop solutions.

"We are seeing more and more evidence of how neglect and parenting difficulties can have a huge impact on the development of young children, and these latest statistics show that there needs to be greater investment in early intervention forms of assistance to give all children the best start in life."

Last year, 4Children launched its Give Me Strength initiative, which is designed to give families somewhere to go before they hit crisis point.

Posted by Robert Mair on 9/2/2012