There is a limited amount of time for a children's hearing or pre-hearing panel to come to a decision that is in the best interests of the child. Therefore it is essential that each panel member attending the hearing has prepared fully for the hearing and that the hearing has a structure which allows the legal requirements to be met and gives everyone present the opportunity to make a valuable contribution.
Although the chairing member of the hearing has particular responsibilities laid down in legislation, he or she has no additional power in relation to the decision and all three panel members should work together as a team prior to, during and after the children's hearing or pre-hearing panel. They should support each other with each panel member making a full contribution to the process. This section focuses on the role of a panel member in the hearing and takes each stage of the hearing in turn.
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