Children's Panel - Is it for me?
How the system came about
Since 1971 Children's Hearings have been making decisions about children who need care or protection. The Children's Panel is recognised as a statutory tribunal under the Tribunal and Enquiries Act 1992.
People who become Panel Members are everyday people from all walks of life; there is no 'standard Panel Member'. The person sitting next to you on the bus, in your office or standing at the school gates could be one just as much as your bank manager might! What we are more interested in is what experience you have had dealing with children and families, why you want to become involved and how well you communicate.
You will be fully trained before you are allowed to sit at a Hearing and quite rightly so, as you will be dealing with real children or young people and making potentially life-changing, legally binding decisions. People are appointed or re-appointed to panels by the Scottish Ministers. The task of selection is the responsibility of the Children's Panel Advisory Committee (CPAC) for the local authority area. The selection procedure adopted by the CPAC involves completing an application form, interviews and group discussions. This takes place during November each year.
What is a Children's Hearing?
A Children's Hearing is a tribunal made up of male and female Panel Members who are charged with making decisions on the needs of children. The Hearing receives a report on the child and their social background from the Social Work Department of the local authority and where appropriate, a report from the child's school. The child or young person's situation is discussed openly, with everyone present given the opportunity to give their views. The Hearing then decides the way forward in the best interests of the child.
What's the time commitment?
Hearings are held locally during the day. Individual Hearings vary in length but a normal session of three cases will last a morning or afternoon. Panel Members are expected to take part in two sessions a month minimum.
Are there expenses?
Panel members can usually claim travel and some other expenses. A loss of earnings allowance, in accordance with Government guidelines, is also payable.