Children's Hearings Advocacy Expert Reference Group: terms of reference

Terms of reference of the Children's Hearings Advocacy Expert Reference Group.


  • to work with Scottish Government to finalise the delivery details of the programme, design appropriate pre-commencement training and development opportunities, and appropriate and relevant publicity materials, and implement a communications and engagement strategy
  • by Spring 2020, this programme will have introduced an advocacy service for the Children’s Hearings System, which will improve the lives, outcomes and opportunities of our most vulnerable children and young people 
  • after implementation the Group will continue to play a strategic role and provide advice on the best way to add improvement, address unmet need and increase provision in subsequent years


The overall advocacy programme will: 

  • establish an advocacy service for the Children’s Hearings System as required under section 122 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011
  • give children and young people support to express their views in the hearings decisions that affect their well-being
  • ensure advocacy workers are provided by their organisation with relevant skills, competence and capacity to deliver high-quality children’s advocacy, and that the organisations are flexible and adaptive to changing contexts when planning how best to provide advocacy services to a child or young person
  • ensure that the child or young person understands the grounds for their hearing, the process they are experiencing and the decisions being made
  • ensure that during the hearing the issues identified and the views expressed by the child or young person before and during the hearing are introduced, examined, reiterated where necessary, and listened to and acted upon


Advising on training and development opportunities:

  • advise what the component part of pre-service training should be, including what the training should cover and what it should avoid
  • advise what the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) approach should be following implementation
  • identifying facilitators across the sector to support the project, ensuring they are suitably experienced and trained
  • supporting the facilitators as the project progresses, including engaging the facilitators as part of any evaluation

Advising on communications and engagement:

  • feeding into the development of an engagement strategy which takes account of local circumstances and understanding of current provision
  • developing publicity materials
  • ensuring a targeted approach to messaging
  • issue of relevant materials

Advising on regulations/legislation and accountability:

  • consideration to be given to extent of regulations required, now and in future
  • make use of procedural regulations as appropriate
  • consider accountability measures
  • provide continued strategic advice and guidance on the effectiveness of the national delivery in the early operational phases and beyond


  • providing advice on a proposal for identifying and reducing unmet demand, scaling up and increasing provision, subject to the results of the evaluation and the necessary approvals.  Proposals will include planning for continued delivery, and will make recommendations on the staffing and resources required to support the delivery and growth of the programme. 


The group will meet approximately on a six weekly basis during the initial six months of the project, moving to meeting every 2-3 months after implementation in spring 2020.



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