Keeping the Promise

Minister responds to major report on redesigning the children’s hearings system.

Minister for Keeping the Promise Natalie Don has welcomed a landmark independent report that sets out more than 100 recommendations for transforming Scotland’s unique children’s hearings system.

‘Hearings for Children’ has been developed following a 20-month review of the children’s hearings system, and how it can be reformed to better support children needing care and protection. The work has been led by Sheriff David Mackie, the Promise Scotland and the Hearings System Working Group (HSWG) and follows on from the publication of the Independent Care Review (The Promise), which recommended a review and redesign of the children’s hearings system.

The Scottish Government will now take the time necessary to carefully consider the proposals contained within the report before responding later in the year.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister for Keeping the Promise Natalie Don said:

“The Children’s Hearings System is unique to Scotland and for over 50 years, the dedication and commitment of those working within it has been outstanding. However, the Promise is clear that the system needs to change, as children’s experiences in the system haven’t always reflected that investment of care and skill.

“I am very grateful to Sheriff Mackie, the Promise Scotland and the wider Hearings System Working Group for this crucial report. It has clearly been developed with care and we must apply the same levels of care and diligence when considering our response. The Scottish Government will now move forward with a programme of transformational change founded on this report. We’ll reflect on the legal, financial and workforce implications of these proposals before responding more fully later in the year. We will work closely with all partners, including those in the responsible agencies such as COSLA and Social Work Scotland to deliver wholesale positive change.

“Where early positive change is possible, I am clear that should happen quickly. The changes that need new law or new structures will take time, but I want to assure children, families and those that work in the system that there will be opportunities to contribute, and to shape future reforms. Children, young people and the care-experienced community – along with volunteers and professionals – want to see this work yielding positive, sustainable change. I am determined that we will deliver that for them.”


The HSWG was set up by the Promise Scotland in the summer of 2021 to Keep the Promise with regard to the redesign of the current children’s hearings system. It is a partnership between Children’s Hearings Scotland, Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration and The Promise Scotland and is independent of the Scottish Government.

The Promise is the outcome of the Independent Care Review and was published in 2020. The Scottish Government signed up to all of the conclusions set out in the review and set out the actions we would take in The Promise Implementation Plan published in March 2022.  This included a commitment to a review of the children’s hearings system.


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