Volunteer for the Children's Panel

Last updated: 13 January 2020

Panel Members take part in children's hearings. Their role is to listen and make legal decisions with and for:

  • infants
  • children
  • young people

They make sure the young person is at the centre of every decision. Each decision has an impact on their lives.

As a panel member you'll be appointed for 3 years to start with. This can be extended if you're reappointed.

Who can be a Panel Member

To apply you need to:

  • be at least 18 years old (there's no upper age limit)
  • live or work in the local council area you want to serve as a Panel Member
  • be able to go to the pre-service training
  • give 2 satisfactory references
  • be checked under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme
  • have the right to work in the UK

You do not need any formal qualifications to become a Panel Member. You'll get training to make sure you feel confident in your role.

How to apply

You can now apply for 2021.

You can apply to be Panel Member on Children's Hearing Scotland (CHS) website.

CHS recruit once a year. But you can express your interest any time on the CHS website. CHS will then contact you with information before they open applications again for the next year.

Your application will include a check under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. You will not be charged for this check.

What Children's Panel Members do

Panel Members go to children's hearings and make legal decisions about how to help and protect the children and young people who need additional support.

They make these decisions by talking to:

  • the child or young person
  • their family
  • a guardian
  • anyone else at the hearing such as a social worker or teacher

They keep the child or young person at the centre of every decision made.

They can decide:

  • to give the child or young person a Compulsory Supervision Order – this can say who they should live with, and who they can see and when
  • that formal, compulsory supervision measures are not needed and end the case
  • that they need more information to help them make a decision about what's best

Time off work

Children's hearings take place during the week and daytime hours. Panel Members usually go to either a morning or afternoon session twice a month.

If you work this usually means asking your employer for time off. You have the right to take time off work to sit on these hearings. This is because children's hearings are statutory tribunals (like jury duty).

You can read more about time off work for public duty in Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Training

As a trainee Panel Member you need to commit to a training programme. It involves:

  • a few evening sessions
  • some full days training
  • online study
  • assessments

While you develop your skills you'll be able to observe 2 or 3 children's hearings.

Through your training, you'll get a Professional Development Award for 'Children's Hearings in Scotland: Panel Members'.

This is on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 7.

The award is verified by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. It's one of the few awards available just for volunteers.

As a fully qualified Panel Member you'll keep your skills update through training courses. This can be courses online or in person. You'll also go to local learning and development sessions.

Training usually takes place in the evenings or at weekends.

Skills you'll gain as a Panel Member

Your training and experience as a Panel Member will give you many skills. These include:

  • understanding the needs of children and young people
  • communicating with children and young people
  • principles and practises within the children's hearings system including law and procedure
  • chairing hearings
  • decision making and protecting rights
  • other skills such as leadership, teamwork, analytical thinking and decision making

More information

Go to www.chsscotland.gov.uk to find more about children's hearings and Panel Members.