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The Hearings for Children redesign report calls for historic reform to the Children’s Hearings System in Scotland.

It was published by The Promise Scotland following the input of The Hearings System Working Group, a partnership group of:

  • children with lived experience of the system, and
  • experts.

The report was informed by an extensive engagement and design process.

This included over 500 hours of discussion and deliberation, including 12 sessions with young people and 11 sessions with parents and carers.

And it calls for transformational change, to create a Hearings System that puts children and families at the centre.

Stylised image of a smile with a family at its centre.

Hearings System Working Group: Redesign Report

Hearings for Children: Redesign Recommendations

Summarised versions of all recommendations in the Hearings for Children Redesign Report.

Hearings For Children: The Redesign Report

The Hearings System Working Group's final report sets out how to redesign the Children's Hearings System so children are put at its centre.

CRIA: Children's Hearings System Redesign Recommendations

The Hearings System Working Group's final report sets out how to redesign the Children's Hearings System so children are put at its centre.

Hearings for Children: Summary overview of recommendations

Summary overview of recommendations in terms of what matters to children and families.

Hearings for Children: Child-friendly summary overview of recommendations

Child-friendly summary overview of recommendations in terms of what matters to children and their families.

Isla's story

What would the Hearings System look like when children are put at the centre?

The best way to know is to see it through the eyes of a child.

Isla’s story shows what a journey through the redesigned system will look like, from before a child enters it to what happens after a Hearing is over.

Briefing on the Redesign Report

This briefing outlines the intention, output and broad conclusions of Hearings For Children.

What does the Redesign Report recommend?

The Redesign Report makes over 90 recommendations around what needs to change in the Children’s Hearings System. Among the most significant are:

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Changes to the makeup of a Panel

Currently, children in Scotland go to Hearings made up of volunteer Panel Members because:

  • they are in need of care, protection and support, or
  • they have come into conflict with the law.

The report recommends that a Hearing will consist of:

  • a salaried and highly-qualified professional Chair, and
  • two trained and skilled Panel Members, remunerated at a daily rate.

The changes, if implemented, will ensure that children have the same Chair every time they go to a Hearing.

Although the decision makers on the Panel will not need to be from any particular profession, this change - if accepted - will bring to a conclusion Scotland’s unique volunteers-only model.

The Independent Care Review’s Promise Report found that many children and families had difficult and challenging experiences when they had to retell their stories to different panel members— as this could involve repeatedly recounting traumatic experiences.

A less confrontational environment

The Promise Report found that children at Hearings didn't always feel that:

  • their past experiences were understood, or
  • their voices were listened to.

The Redesign Report recommends that Chairs adopt an inquisitorial model for Hearings. This means they would have the power and responsibility to make sure discussions are not:

  • overly adversarial or
  • overly confrontational.

Asking for the views of children and families before a Hearing takes place

The Reporter must ask children and families their views when they are considering whether they need the legal support of the Children’s Hearing.

 

 

Specialist training for decision makers

All decision-makers in the Children’s Hearings System will be given significant specialist training in:

  • trauma,
  • child development, and
  • communication.

New processes and mechanisms around legal orders

To make sure legal orders happen in the way they are supposed to, there will be both:

  • streamlined processes, and
  • collaborative accountability mechanisms.

Children's Hearings should be linked into wider discussions

When other meetings and discussions happen, they should link to - and feed into - Children’s Hearings in a way which supports them.

A central role for the Child's Plan

The Child’s Plan – which plans for the care and support of a child or young person who may be in need of help or protection – should be seen as central to decision making in the Children’s Hearings System.

What happens next with these recommendations?

The recommendations of the new report will now be sent to the Scottish Government.

The Promise Scotland expects the Scottish Government will review the report and that the necessary legislative change will be enacted in the forthcoming Promise Bill, to be introduced in this Parliamentary Session.