A mother gave her daughter three ecstasy tablets for her 13th birthday present, a town's elected mayor said.
Tough ex-detective Ray Mallon, formerly known as RoboCop, was speaking out about problem families in Middlesbrough, where he leads the council.
He said one household was costing the public purse £600,000 a year. Mr Mallon said in another family, a mother gave her daughter a present of three ecstasy tablets when she became a teenager.
Mr Mallon, who has been elected Middlesbrough's mayor three times, said there were 360 children in care in the town.
"Many of these children are in care due to neglect because of poor parenting," he said.
"There was one where a mother gave a 13 year-old child ecstasy tablets - you know, hard drugs - for her birthday. I just despair."
"One family costs £600,000 a year due to numerous interventions by the council and our partner agencies."
The Government has set up the Troubled Families programme so authorities and their partners can help 120,000 households in England turn their lives around by 2015.
Mr Mallon was feted by politicians in the late 1990s when he adopted a zero tolerance stance against crime while a detective superintendent with Cleveland Police.
He was elected on an independent ticket in 2002, and will stand down in 2015.