Children's Panel Recruitment
Who can be a Panel Member ?
Panel Members are volunteer members of the public from all walks of life and are appointed by Scottish Ministers on advice from the local Area Support Team.
Every local authority has a children's panel, and panel members sit on hearings on a rota basis. A children's hearing has three panel members, of which there must be a mix of men and women. The hearing must decide whether compulsory measures of supervision are needed for the child and, if so, what they should be. Panel Members are unpaid and give their services voluntarily, but are carefully selected and highly trained. They must be at least 18 years old but there is no upper age limit.
Each year there is a recruitment campaign in the press and on TV and Radio to heighten awareness and attract suitable applicants from as wide a field as possible. Members must either work or live in the area in which they serve thus underlining the Scottish tradition of care and justice at a local level.
If you are interested in receiving more information on Panel Membership please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01506 281604.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Children's Panel members are appointed by Scottish Ministers upon recommendations from West Lothian’s Children's Panel Advisory Committee (CPAC). The initial appointment is for a period of three years and the CPAC will monitor performance in Hearings and attendance at in-service training.
Panel Members are by law entitled to have reasonable time off, taking account of local circumstances and their individual employer's staffing needs. In reality the vast majority of employers and Panel Members come to mutually suitable arrangements which work very well. Panel training and service allows the development of valued skills which are viewed very positively by many employers. Members of the Children's Panel are ineligible for Jury Service during their appointment.
In order that children's needs are to be properly addressed families must enjoy a hearing free from any possible conflicts of interest. As a result people professionally involved in the children's hearings System or in directly implementing Hearings decisions are in practice ineligible for Panel Membership, for example Social Workers, Police Officers and Residential Carers at Children's establishments. Justices of the Peace who sit in the District Court are also deemed to have a conflict of interest.
Panel Members are not paid for their service but all can claim an allowance for loss of earnings, travel and subsistence connected with duties and training. The levels of these allowances are laid down by Scottish Ministers and can include reimbursement of child care costs.
The commitment to the initial training programme is onerous and spans a period of 9 months. Thereafter, the Panel in-service training reduces substantially to a couple of Saturday mornings per year and a monthly area meeting. Hearing Sessions take place on various weekday mornings and afternoons. Members can expect to be rostered for around two hearing sessions per month. Rotas are drawn up by the Chairman in advance, after consultation with members and every effort is made to meet with Panel Members' personal pressures, work patterns, holidays and other commitments. The confidential hearing papers must be read beforehand and are sent out to Members' home about a week prior to the hearing date. Consequently, time also needs to be set aside for some home preparation.
You are considered on your merits and the needs of the Children's Panel regardless of your employment category or status. However, if you are claiming benefit you must continue to be available for and actively seeking work. Accordingly, children's hearings commitments must not interfere with your back to work plan. In practice, there is little conflict or cause for concern.
The Children's Panel comprises lay men and woman from all walks of life, social, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Panel members are not expected to be legal experts and guidance is available on legal and procedural points as they arise. Additionally, every panel member receives full and appropriate training in aspects of Hearing procedures, legislation, interpersonal and communication skills. Members are given training on an ongoing basis throughout their panel service.
No special qualifications are stipulated for Children's Panel Membership. Broadly speaking, people who are concerned for the welfare of children and young people and are capable of taking a reasonable and objective attitude towards children in trouble would be suitable. An ability also to grasp the main issues from written reports is useful as is the need for a commitment to total confidentiality.
The Children's Panel Advisory Committee (CPAC) is responsible for advising Scottish Ministers on (amongst other things) the recruitment of members of the public as members of the Children's Panel and thus have a key role in the children's hearings system. Their remit also includes recommendations on re-appointments as well as observations, training needs/issues and overall monitoring of the day-to-day running of the hearings system in West Lothian. In selecting Panel Members, the CPAC try to maintain a balance and spread of factors such as age, gender, social and ethnic background against the existing make-up of the West Lothian Panel. CPAC members are also appointed by Scottish Ministers and bring a mix of background, experience and expertise in areas of Child welfare and recruitment and monitoring. CPAC’s can often include former Panel Members amongst their number.