A Midland local authority is paying #4.3 million a year to house 24 children in private care homes.
Solihull Council, which does not have children?s homes of its own, said the figure - which works out at #180,000 per child - reflected the difficulty of finding external placements for young people with ?complex needs?.
Kevin Crompton, director of children?s services, described the cost as frightening.
He pointed out: ?You are talking about children who will self-harm if left alone and they need at least three people to be looking after them all of the time.?
He added: ?We are not alone in facing these problems. More than 73 per cent of local authorities will overspend their children?s services budgets this year.?
The average bill for a week in a children?s home paid by Solihull is #2,400 and costs have soared by 83 per cent since 2000.
The council is warning of severe financial pressures following a #3.7 million budget overspend.
Part of the drain on resources results from an obligation to accommodate the children of asylum seek-ers. Mr Crompton said pressures were greater than in other parts of the West Midlands because of the presence of a screening centre for asylum seekers in the borough.
Although the council qualifies for Government help, the actual cost of looking after 205 children of asylum seek-ers exceeded a Home Office grant by #400,000 last year.
The knock-on impact on the limited number of foster care places available to the council means that other children have to be placed with independent foster agencies at a cost of #700 per week.
A scrutiny committee report predicted an increase in the number of children being taken into care of up to ten per cent a year and urged a fundamental review of trends and costs.
Solihull has about 200 children in care at the moment. Meeting the soaring costs would require savings or efficiencies of 13 per cent from the #19 million children?s services budget.
Failing to provide places is not an option since the council would be in breach of its statutory responsibilities if it did not meet the needs of children in care and could face legal action.
Earlier intervention by social services is planned in an attempt to reduce the number of children in care.
Mr Crompton has appointed a procurement officer to negotiate better rates from private care providers.
There are also plans to recruit more foster carers and for the council to build its own residential units.
Comment, Page 11