WHAT IS THE CHILDREN'S PANEL?
It exists to help protect the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people in Scotland. The Children’s Panel is made up of around 2,500 specially trained volunteer Panel Members from all walks of life. We listen, discuss, and make important decisions at children’s hearings about how best to protect each child or young person in the future.
WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
In a word, you. There’s no one type of person or background that makes the ideal Children’s Panel Member. Your gender, religion, age, qualifications, employment status, and any previous criminal convictions (within reason) aren’t important. However, it goes without saying you’ll be a good listener, reliable and importantly you need to care.
But don't just take it from us, here's what care experienced children and young people think makes the perfect Panel Member:
You'll also be at least 18 years of age, live and/or work in the local authority area in which you wish to volunteer, and be able to attend training from December until May.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A CHILDREN'S HEARING?
Three Panel Members must be present at every children’s hearing. They are required to make legal decisions that aim to protect and support the child or young person. These decisions are informed by a range of different people including: the family; social work; a child or young person’s advocate; safeguarder; and/or teacher. And each case is different. Importantly though, the voice of the child or young person is at the centre of every children’s hearing.
Read more about what children and young people think about children's hearings.
WHAT DECISIONS WILL I MAKE?
Panel Members makes decisions that are in the best interests of the child or young person attending the hearing.
During a hearing, Panel Members must decide whether compulsory measures of supervision are needed to protect the child or young person. And, if so, what these measures should be. This includes making serious decisions such as putting a child or young person into foster care for protection or respite, or the need for additional support for the child and/or their family.
WHAT SORT OF CASES ARE DISCUSSED?
There are many reasons children and young people are referred to a children’s hearing. The most common reason is that a child or young person’s welfare or safety is a cause for concern. This could mean discussing difficult family issues such as abuse or neglect and the need for additional family support. Less often, a young person is referred because they are believed to have committed a criminal offence.
DO VOLUNTEERS GET SUPPORT?
Yes. Children’s Hearings Scotland is the national body set up to recruit, train and support the volunteer Panel Members who make up Scotland’s Children’s Panel. You will also be supported by one of 22 Area Support Teams across Scotland. Made up of approximately 400 volunteers, Area Support Teams are recruited by Children’s Hearings Scotland to support Panel Members in each local area. In addition, Area Support Teams are supported locally by a Clerk employed by the local authority.
WHO IS CHILDREN'S HEARINGS SCOTLAND?
Children’s Hearings Scotland is a public body that was set up to recruit, train and support volunteer Children’s Panel Members. Our National Convener is responsible for appointing all Panel Members.