Children’s Hearings

What are Children’s Hearings?

  • They are meetings which are held to provide help for children who may be having problems in their lives and they may require compulsory measures of supervision

What are these problems?

A child may have a number of issues such as:

  • The child may suffer harm due to abuse or lack of parental care
  • The parents can’t control them
  • Child may be misusing drugs, alcohol or solvents
  • The child may have committed an offence
  • Child may not be attending school
  • The child may be being hurt, either physically or emotionally

Why does the child go to a Hearing?

  • A referral will be made by someone who has concerns about a child to the Children’s Reporter for your area. The Reporter will look at your child’s case and will decide if the child needs to attend a Children’s Hearing to help address the issues they have. A kinship carer can call for a hearing and can contact the Reporter at any time who may then arrange a Hearing.

How does the Reporter make the decision to refer your child to a hearing?

  • The Reporter gathers information about the child such as information from school, police, health agencies and details of family circumstances. Usually a social worker will meet the child, parents and/or carers to prepare a Report (known as an IAF Integrated Assessment Report or SBR – a Social Background Report) on the child and their circumstances.
  • The Reporter will consider all the information carefully and will have decided that your child may need compulsory measure of supervision which can be arranged by the Children’s Hearing.

Who can attend?

  • The child, although sometimes the child is excused from attending
  • The parent
  • A relevant person who has responsibility for the child: this is often the carer (a kinship carer needs to be recognised as a relevant person. If they are not then they have no right to attend, receive papers, request reviews and appeal.)
  • The child and the relevant person can attend with a representative who can give them support or help them give their views e.g. minister, teacher
  • If you cannot attend you must notify the Reporter immediately as there may be penalties
  • A legal representative if one has been appointed for the child

What will happen at the hearing?

  • At the hearing there are three panel members, a mix of male and female trained volunteers
  • There may be social workers or teachers who will be questioned
  • The child and relevant persons may be represented by solicitors
  • Panel members will have reports from professionals involved with the child, including a Social Background Report written by a social worker. The child (if over 12 years) and the relevant persons will also receive copies of these reports
  • The child and relevant person will be called into the Hearing and informed why you are there
  • A statement called ‘grounds of referral’ will be read out to the child and relevant person. Grounds of referral are a legal statement setting out the reasons for the child being referred to a Children’s Hearing
  • Before a full discussion can take place the relevant person and child need to understand and agree with all or some of the grounds of referral

What happens if I don’t agree with the reasons for the hearing?

  • Inform the panel
  • They will stop and decide not to proceed
    Or
  • The Reporter will arrange for the case to be heard in front of the Sheriff who will make a decision on whether the grounds of referral have been established and if there should be a hearing

What happens next?

  • If grounds of referral are established the Reporter will convene a hearing on how to proceed
  • Discussions will take place with the child and parent or carer
  • Sometimes the hearing asks for another report to be written and this will be undertaken by a person called a SAFEGUARDER
  • This report will contain recommendations which are presented to the panel
  • A decision will then be made about how to proceed

What if I don’t agree with the decision?

  • The relevant person, the child and the safeguarder can appeal the decision to the Sheriff
  • Any appeal must happen within three weeks
  • You should speak to a solicitor who will advise you what to do

What can the Children’s Hearing decide?

  • They can dismiss the case
  • Compulsory Supervision Order: where the child is supervised by a social worker within their home
  • Compulsory Supervision Order with a measure that the child reside outwith the family home; the measure must name a specific place and not be general
  • They can determine contact arrangements

For further information on children’s hearing for kinship carers please contact www.scra.gov.uk and you can right-click here to download their guide