Children's Hearings Advocacy Expert Reference Group minutes: August 2019

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 30 August 2019.

Items and actions


Group discussed the Terms of Reference and asked for minor amendments to formatting and to clarify the membership.


  • Scottish Government will make final edits and members will be invited to endorse the final terms of reference at the next meeting in September

Terms of reference 

The group discussed the content of the draft Terms of Reference paper and comments were offered including to make small edits to the purpose section, change the presentation of the membership list, include more detail about role post-implementation phase.


  • update the terms of reference paper to incorporate comments

Children’s hearings advocacy

Communications and engagement 

Discussion focussed on developing the publicity and materials to support children’s hearings advocacy start-up. Topics covered:

  • clear messaging balancing both the national ambition and protecting local autonomy
  • explaining how the service offer relates to the National Practice Model (NPM), its distinctiveness and limits specifically for children and young people within the Children’s Hearings system
  • identifying events to communicate with target audience across the children’s care and education sectors and opportunity arranged with Scottish Youth Parliament in November to promote and seek input from young people about suitable methods for obtaining feedback on quality of services
  • it was recognised that work had been done to communicate at a senior/strategic level and the next phase needed to priorities communication and engagement at a localised level e.g. reaching social workers, teachers, panel members etc


  • Scottish Government would incorporate opportunities and actions into the Communications and Engagement Strategy.  It should be shared with the group and updates to it regularly invited at meetings including scheduling activity with the Communications and Engagement sub-group members

Grant funding – expressions of interest

An update was provided on the provisional timeline for the Expressions of Interest exercise. The group asked for the guidance to be clear, explaining what it means/how it works for main provider and back-up provider, how partnership/reciprocal agreements between providers may work and how to contact in Scottish Government for any clarification and advice to help with completing the applications.  


  • inform the group when the Expression of Interest has been published
  • circulate mapping exercise of current advocacy services across local authorities to the group for information and comment

Legislation and regulations

It was considered within discussion the importance of facilitating ongoing relationships and there needing to have a clear mechanism to manage cases where child/young person already has an advocacy worker for other purposes.  

Monitoring whether any risks arise from local authority provision e.g. pulling back on funding versus opportunities it may open to uncovering unmet needs in other areas of child’s life. Data to estimate current provision and demand is being looked into.

It was suggested that a ‘providers group’ could be beneficial in helping to ensure consistency of services and to create a space to take practice issues, working alongside the ERG.


  • Scottish Government to prepare paper for the group explaining the approach to drafting the Regulations (light-touch to provide a starting framework), timetable and roles including how the ERG will help 
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland need to think about procedural handling, for example, how the chair of the panel ensures the child/young person is informed about children’s advocacy services and would deferral apply cases where child/young person has not been informed about advocacy

Training and CPD 

The Scottish Government and Clan Childlaw explained they would be working together to develop plans for the pre-service training for children’s advocacy workers in the Children’s Hearings system. This would involve developing content and the coordination of arrangements for the one day training sessions to reach all Children’s Hearings advocacy workers across Scotland. Members were invited to offer views on what the content should cover. Feedback included how the advocacy worker interacts with other professionals e.g. safeguarders, solicitors etc.


  • Clan Childlaw invited further suggestions on what the training should contain. They will continue to take views via the Training and CPD sub-group as the elements are developed

Information sharing and consent – best practice 

The group discussed the practicalities and reputational opportunities and barriers both on a child/young person’s first interaction with the Children’s Hearings and also for those already within the system to ensure clarity, consistency and confidence of how children and young people find a way to an advocacy worker. Processes need to be complaint with law on data protection.  


  • include on the agenda for the next meeting.  Further thought to be given to how people are informed, by Social Workers, SCRA, etc


The next meeting is planned for 5 September. 

Back to top