A CARE crisis is sweeping Wirral with marriage break-ups leaving too many children needing help and not enough adoptive families available to look after them.
The situation has left children's services in Wirral facing a financial shortfall of more than £4m, it was revealed last night.
With more children in care than ever before, social services do not have enough money to look after them.
Councillors blame the situation on increasing numbers of family break-ups. They say too few children are being adopted and the system can no longer cope.
The chairwoman of the social care and health select committee, Cllr Pat Williams, said the council was now considering raising the criteria before a child was eligible for care.
She said: "Unfortunately we can never predict how many children we will need to look after. The numbers have been growing and growing and this has led to budget problems. We are desperately trying to encourage more foster carers and adoption. But this has been difficult.
"We are now at the stage where we will have to find millions of pounds worth of savings. I am loath to restrict any care but we have to look at the options."
Cllr Williams said it was time for parents to take responsibility.
She said: "So many families are breaking up, putting a great deal of pressure on the system. Parents need to think through the implications of their behaviour. We will support families who are struggling but now have to start thinking about prevention, getting that support in before things go wrong.
"To this end we will look at working more closely with voluntary groups to help educate parents and work with families."
There are 670 children currently receiving care in Wirral. Over the Christmas period alone an extra 18 children were taken in.
Last year, the department overspent by almost £2m, with money offset from other council departments.
Wirral believes it can make up £2.8m of the shortfall leaving it with a gap in 2005/6 of £2m and a further gap in 2006/7 of £1.9m.
A business plan has now been devised which aims to reduce the number of children in residential care by 30 to save more than £3m a year.
The Daily Post earlier revealed how Wirral social services had overspent by £5.3m last year.