The Children's Hearings system can't run without members of the Children's Panel in attendance. Every year we rely on attracting new panel volunteers. You don't need specialist skills or formal training, just the capacity to care about, and communicate with, children and families.
As you will be dealing with children from challenging backgrounds, qualities of empathy, respect and impartiality will be crucial.
Who can't become a panel member?
Some occupations may present conflicts of interest, these include:
- social workers dealing with children and families in North Ayrshire
- those involved in referring children to hearings
- justices of the peace
- individuals dealing with children on supervision such as staff of residential schools
- police officers
As a panel applicant you will be obliged to disclose if you, or a member of your immediate family, has appeared before a court or Children's Hearing. Previous convictions will not automatically exclude appointment.
Become a panel member
Recruitment and selection happens annually and is advertised in the local press, radio, twitter and online. Register your interest online or telephone 01294 324155/324162. You will be invited to an information evening. Applications will be considered by the Ayrshire Area Support Team before interviews. Appointed applicants will commence training.
Training runs over a 4 month period before a first hearing. This is a significant commitment involving 7 training sessions as well as attendance at a number of training evenings. Training is provided by the Children's Hearing's Training Unit (Glasgow Centre).
Panel members can only undertake hearings once they have completed all pre-service training sessions and PVG Disclosure checks.
Panel members are expected to undertake at least 2 hearings per month, normally lasting about 3 hours each. Hearings are held during working hours. It's advisable to seek the approval of your employer before applying. New members will need to attend induction training on their appointment and over the course of the year.
How long do panel appointments last?
Panel members are recruited for 3 year terms which may be extended subject to performance.
Reasonable expenses incurred as a result of attendance will be reimbursed such as:
- set allowances for loss of earnings/childcare
- cost of attendance at training and conferences
Where and when are hearings held?
Hearings are held at Sovereign House, Academy Road, Irvine KA12 8RL at the following times:
- Monday - 9.45am and 2pm
- Tuesday - 9.45am, 1.30pm and 2pm
- Wednesday - 9.45am and 2pm
- Thursday - 9.45am and 2pm
- Friday - 10.30am
Hearings on the Isle of Arran are as and when required.
Information for employers
As Children's Hearings usually meet during working hours employees may need to request time off to attend. Whilst this can be inconvenient for employers, the skills, knowledge and experience gained by panel members can be put into practice in the workplace. The influencing, negotiating and communicative skills developed as a panel member could be of benefit to employers. Further information on your role as an employer can be found on the Children's Panel Scotland website.
The role of the Area Support Team (AST)
The AST works with Children's Hearings Scotland and is responsible at a local level for:
- local recruitment of panel members, including interview and selection
- making recommendations to the National Convener for panel member appointments and reappointment
- ensuring that volunteers in the Children's Hearings System have had checks undertaken in line with Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme
- managing the rota for the Children's Panel within the AST area
- supporting panel members
- observing and assessing panel member practice, including constructive feedback and ensuring panel members are offered continuous learning and development opportunities
- promoting local awareness and understanding of the Children's Hearings System as Scotland's care and justice system for children and young people, and the vital contribution made by panel members as unsalaried lay tribunal members
- undertaking a local training needs analysis
- handling complaints about panel members
- building and developing effective working relationships with key partners in the local area
Changes to children’s panel recruitment
The Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act (2011) brought about the amalgamation of Scotland’s 32 local Children's Panels into a single body - Children's Hearings Scotland which is responsible for the recruitment and training of all panel members.