Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) recruits, trains and supports around 2,500 volunteers across Scotland. Our volunteer roles are Panel Members and Area Support Team (AST) members. Panel Members make legal decisions with, and for, children and young people in children’s hearings, and AST members provide support and guidance to those Panel Members locally. You may have heard of us being referred to as the Children’s Panel too.
Panel Members and Area Support Teams are key to the Children’s Hearings System. This system is Scotland’s care and justice system which makes sure that infants, children and young people are safe and cared for. Volunteer Panel Members take part in children’s hearings, as a panel of three, to make important legal decisions for the children who attend - keeping their views at the heart of every hearing.
We have 2,500 fantastic volunteers in our community, with six different volunteer roles:
- Panel Member – takes part in children’s hearings and makes legal decisions about the care and protection of infants, children and young people.
- Area Convener – leads the Area Support Team and works with partners at a local level.
- Depute Area Convener – supports the Area Convener and manages any complaints and concerns.
- Learning and Development Coordinator – organises Panel Member development at a local level.
- Panel Practice Advisor – maintains the high quality of our Panel Member practice through observation at hearings and feedback.
- Panel Representative – a local point of contact for Panel Members, representing their interests in the Area Support Teams.
Each of our volunteer AST roles above may also be involved in the recruitment process and selection of new Panel Members.
Our vision, purpose and values
Children’s Hearings Scotland works to a set of National Standards and we make sure that our vision, purpose and values are visible in everything that we do. You can read more about our plans for our work in our Business and Corporate Parenting Plan 2023-2024 and Corporate Plan 2020-2023.
Our vision is of a forward looking and evolving Children’s Hearings System, working as a community to ensure infants, children and young people are cared for and protected, and their views are heard, respected and valued.
Our purpose is to equip our volunteer community to engage positively with infants, children, young people and families; ensuring children are loved, cared for, respected and feel part of decisions taken to improve their lives.
Challenging: Not being complacent, but questioning ourselves and others to help us improve.
Child Centered: Making sure everything we do is in the best interests of children and young people.
Creative: Considering innovative and imaginative ways of approaching the issues we face in the work we do.
Respectful: Treating children, young people, their families, partners and each other with care and consideration
Open: Listening, responding to and learning from feedback; acting honestly; ensuring processes are transparent; sharing information and being accountable for our actions and decisions.
Fair: Making sure that everyone is treated with dignity and according to their individual needs; that our information and services are accessible to all; that we provide a consistent level of service to all.
The National Convener
The National Convener, Elliot Jackson, leads this volunteer community and, as Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland, the staff who work at CHS (referred to as the National Team). The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 introduced the role of National Convener to lead and oversee the Children’s Panel.
The National Convener is an independent position with legal responsibilities to recruit suitable people to serve as Panel Members across Scotland, and to make sure they have the right training and support to enable them to make sound decisions in the best interests of infants, children and young people.
The 2011 Act created Children’s Hearings Scotland as a public body to help the National Convener carry out his legal functions. Although the National Convener is also the Chief Executive of CHS, he is independent of CHS and the CHS Board, when carrying out his legal responsibilities as National Convener.
For more information about the National Convener role, please see our FAQs.