This chapter begins with a discussion of the concept of need, distinguishing between thick and thin definitions of need. A child is considered ‘in need’ if their health or development is actually impaired or likely to become so without some remedial intervention. Impairment refers to the absence of normal healthy development; that is, when a condition usually interferes with daily social functioning and performance. Need is linked explicitly to the existence or likelihood of harm, which in turn is connected, critically, to the ability (or inability) to act in society. It is dependent on seven points of context, which are outlined. The chapter then considers the different approaches for measuring different types of need: expressed need, comparative need, and normative need.
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