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
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