Children's panel members have a vital role in the children's hearings system. They are tasked to make decisions that are crucial to the lives of the children and their families who come before them. It is for this reason that great care is taken over their appointment and it is essential that they should be provided with first class training and good reference material that will enable them to undertake their role with confidence.
In June 2013 the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 will come in to force and like its predecessors the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 and the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 there will be significant changes to hearings, however the fundamental role of panel members remains the same. In order to ensure panel members can deal with the changes the four Children's Hearings Training Units, at the request of Scottish Government, undertook a complete revision of the existing guidance manual for panel members. This revision includes other legislation which has been introduced in recent years and which has had an impact on the work of hearings as well as best practice guidance which has been developed in the light of experience.
The original Training Resource Manual has been separated into two volumes - Volume One - Legislation and Procedures which contains the new act and new rules, and relevant sections of all recent legislative changes and revised step by step procedures and best practice guidance Volume Two - Children's Hearings Handbook is primarily about children: the problems that some of them face, the environment in which they live, their needs, their rights and the services that are provided to meet those needs as well as how best to communicate with them and the adults who are present at hearings.
The panel member's task is not only to make decisions fairly and in accordance with the statutory requirements but also to take full account of the individual needs of every child who comes to a hearing. These volumes aim to provide information to widen the understanding of panel members and enable them to make sound, well-informed decisions at hearings.
It is hoped that all who read this manual will use it as a valuable supplement to their training and as a source of constant reference during their service.
The Training Staff at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Queen Margaret's Edinburgh