Becoming a member of the Children's Panel
The Children's Hearings system cannot run without members of the Children’s Panel in attendance.
Every year we rely on attracting fresh panel volunteers, and this year's drive is appealing to adults in East Ayrshire from all backgrounds, particularly men, to apply. You don't need any specialist skills or formal training, simply the capacity to care about, and communicate with, children and families.
What could I expect to deal with?
As you will be dealing with children from challenging backgrounds, qualities of empathy, respect and impartiality will be crucial. Find out more on the Children's Panel Scotland website where you will also be able to watch an information video.
Who cannot become panel members?
Some occupations may present conflicts of interest which could make individuals ineligible for appointment. These include:
- social workers dealing with children and families in East 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 as each application is considered on its own merits.
How do I become a panel member?
Children's Hearings Scotland launches a recruitment and selection campaign every year. This is accompanied by publicity in the local press, radio and online. Potential panel members then register their interest online or by telephoning 01294 324155/324162. You will then be sent an information pack which will include an invitation to an information evening. Application forms will be issued to everyone who has confirmed their interest. The Ayrshire Area Support Team will then consider applications and hold interviews after which successful applicants will be appointed and commence their training.
Keep an eye on North Ayrshire Council's twitter feed and the Children’s Panel Scotland website for details of our next intake.
What training is provided?
All panel members receive training throughout the four-month period prior to their first hearing. This is a significant commitment involving seven training sessions as well as attendance at a number of local training evenings. This training is provided by the Children’s Hearing’s Training Unit (Glasgow Centre).
Panel members can only undertake hearings once they have completed all their pre-service training sessions and PVG Disclosure checks.
How much time would I be required to commit?
Panel members are expected to undertake at least two hearings per month which normally last in the region of three hours each, although they can occasionally take longer. All hearings are held during the day in normal working hours. It’s therefore advisable to seek the approval of your employer before applying. Additionally, new members will be required 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 three year terms which may be extended subject to performance.
Will I be reimbursed for my expenses?
Reasonable expenses incurred as a result of attendance will be reimbursed such as:
- travelling expenses
- set allowances for loss of earnings/childcare
- cost of attendance at training and conferences
Where and when are hearings held?
All hearings are held during the day, in normal working hours. Hearing Centres for East Ayrshire are:
- Kilmarnock - 21 West Langlands Street, Kilmarnock, KA1 2PY
- Ayr - 35 Carrick Street, Ayr, KA7 1NS
East Ayrshire Hearing Centres
|Day || Morning||Afternoon|
10am Ayr (once every two weeks)
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 it is important to remember that 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 will be of real benefit to employers.
Further information on your role as an employer can be found on the Children's Panel Scotland website.
What is the role of the Area Support Team (AST)?
The AST works with Children's Hearings Scotland and are responsible at a local level for:
- undertaking the local recruitment of panel members as part of national recruitment campaigns and in response to local needs, such as a shortage of male panel members
- interviewing and selecting potential panel members
- making recommendations of assessed applicants to the National Convener for appointment as panel members and making recommendations to the National Convener regarding panel member reappointment
- ensuring that all volunteers in the Children’s Hearings System have had the appropriate checks undertaken in line with Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme (PVG checks)
- managing the rota for the Children’s Panel within the AST area
- supporting panel members on a day-to-day basis
- observing and assessing panel member practice, including constructive feedback to panel members in review of their practice, 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) came into force on 24 June 2013. One of the changes it brought is 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.