Individual assessment is not an inevitable part of providing care for children and young people. There are many examples in history of care systems which have allocated placements on a predetermined basis — whether it be to orphanages or other institutions, or to forms of family-based care. Decisions as to what care to provide may be made on the basis of moral and political principles as to what is appropriate for society to provide, or on the basis of economic factors that determine what resources are available. Decisions may also be made according to the social class and status of the child or young person, their age or gender, or the reasons why they need care. All these factors still have a bearing on decisions in contemporary child care systems, as we shall see. However, the idea that each child is entitled to a personalised individual assessment of her or his needs and circumstances is a modern one, largely characteristic of highly developed and affluent societies since the middle of the twentieth century.
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