The Children's Society is speaking after its research found families with children are more than twice as likely to have problem debt - debts which are affecting their quality of life - than families without children.
It found in all there are 1.4 million families with problem debt, home to 2.4 million children. 1 in 5 in England and Wales have experienced problem debt in the last year, according to the charity.
Nearly a third of the families with problem debt had arrears of more than £5,000, with common sources of problem debts including arrears on energy bills, bank loans and council tax.
Speaking on Premier's News Hour Sam Royston, Policy Director at the Children's Society, said: "Mums and Dads are being forced to make impossible decisions between feeding and clothing their children, and paying the bills.
"The Children's Society is calling for the government to introduce a breathing space scheme to allow families to get their finances back on track when they do get into difficulty.
"Next week the Chancellor Phillip Hammond has his first big chance to make some of the changes that families need to see when he delivers his Autumn Statement."
Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Sam Royston on the News Hour: