What happens at a Children's Hearing ?
Hearings take place in the Civic Centre, Howden Road South, Livingston. The layout of the hearing room is relatively informal with the participants sitting round a table.
Normally, the child / young person must attend and always has the right to attend all stages of his or her own hearing. However, the hearing may decide that the child does not have to attend certain parts of the hearing - or even the whole hearing - if, for example, matters might come up that would cause the child significant distress.
It is important that the relevant persons (e.g. the parents or guardians) should be present at the hearing so that they can part in the discussion and help the hearing to reach a decision. Their attendance is compulsory by law and failure to appear may result in prosecution and a fine. The child/young person and the relevant persons may take a representative to help them at the hearing, and each may choose a separate representative. In certain cases the hearing may appoint a publicly funded Legal Representative.
Although the proceedings are private, there may be observers present, for example someone from the Area Support Team, for the purpose of monitoring Panel Members' performance, or members of the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals. Other observers may attend a hearing, but nobody is admitted unless they have a legitimate concern with the case or with the hearings system and have the agreement of the Chair of the hearing, the child and the child's family. The hearing is therefore a small gathering able to proceed in a relatively informal way and to give the child and parents the confidence and privacy to take a full part in the discussion about what needs to be done for the child.
Frequently Asked Questions
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After your initial training, you would usually be expected to attend two Children's Panel Hearings per month. In addition to attending the Hearings, you would need to prepare by reading the background reports before a Hearing. You will also need to undertake some in-service training to keep up to date with any changes in legislation and child care practices. You may also need to visit children's homes. It is difficult to quantify the exact time you will need to set aside, as it may vary every month.