The Children's Hearings System is Scotland's unique system of care and justice for children and young people. A children's hearing is a legal meeting set up because concerns have been raised about a child or young person's wellbeing or care.
At every hearing there are three volunteers called Panel Members. It is their role to understand the child or young person's circumstances, listen to their views and make legal decisions to ensure they are protected and cared for.
Panel Members come from all walks of life and are recruited from the local community. They undertake extensive training enabling them to make important decisions.
Who decides that a child comes to a hearing?
The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) plays a central role within the Children's Hearings system. The Children's Reporter is the first contact a child or young person and their family will have with the Children's Hearings System. They will decide whether a child or young person should come to a hearing. A child or young person may come to a hearing if they are at risk or have been caught offending. There may be concerns that a child or young person is being abused or taking drugs or alcohol. They may not be attending school.
If you have been asked to attend a children's hearing, you will get a letter from the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration with information, including when and where the hearing will take place.
How long do hearings take?
Hearings generally last around an hour, but a longer period of time can be allocated if the case is more complex or there are a number of children from the same family.
Where and when are hearings held?
Hearings are normally held at Sovereign House, Academy Road, Irvine KA12 8RL. Most hearings take place during working hours, either in person or by virtual means, depending on the needs and wishes of the child or young person and their family. Hearings on the Isle of Arran and Kilmarnock take place as and when required.
Children's hearings are not directly administered by our Health and Social Care Partnership. The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration arranges hearings.
You can also access information about the Children's Hearings System from Children's Hearings Scotland
Our Area Support Team Clerk's Office provides support to the Children's Panel Volunteers and the Area Support Team, including the recruitment of volunteers. The CHS website has more information on becoming a Children’s Panel Member.