Nearly 30,000 children were taken into care last year, figures showed.
A total of 67,050 youngsters - nearly 7,000 more than the capacity of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium - were looked after by English social services departments in the year to March, according to the Department for Education.
The total in care rose 2% in a year which represents an increase of 13% compared with March 2008, when social workers started recommending more children be taken into care following the death of Peter Connelly, known as Baby P.
The new figures showed 1,300 more children were in care compared with the previous year and 28,220 youngsters started to be looked after in 2011-12, an increase of 3% from the previous 12 months.
The statistics also showed more youngsters being adopted, with 3,450 given permanent homes in the 12 months to April - the highest figure since 2007 and an increase of 12% from last year.
Children's minister Edward Timpson said: "The rise in the number of adoptions and adoption placement orders is extremely welcome, but it still takes too long for those who want to adopt and foster to be approved."
Of the 67,000 children in local authority care, 50,000 were with foster families, with the others housed elsewhere, including care homes.
Mr Timpson, whose parents fostered abandoned youngsters, said a Government shake-up of the system would cut the time children spent in care before they were adopted, andthe Government would simplify and shorten the approval process and fast-track existing foster carers to the front of the queue.
Ministers want children moved around England if suitable parents can be found.
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering was "pleased" with the rise in the number of youngsters adopted, but urged more potential adoptive parents to offer their homes.