Questions and Answers
Here are some questions about Corporate Parenting and the Children’s Hearings System
Corporate parents – what’s it all about?
Corporate parents are organisations who have a legal responsibility for children and young people under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
What is a corporate parent?
Corporate parenting is the shared responsibility and partnership of public bodies in meeting the needs of looked-after and care experienced children and young people.
By law, corporate parents have special responsibilities they must carry out, and a moral duty to provide the best possible support and care they can to the children and young people they are involved with.
Who are my corporate parents in the Children’s Hearings System?
The Children and Young People Act (Scotland) 2014 named 24 public bodies as corporate parents.
Within the Children’s Hearings System the corporate parents are:
Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA)
Principal Reporter of SCRA
Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS)
National Convener of Children’s Hearings Scotland
Social Work Scotland
Scottish Legal Aid Board
Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People
What can I expect from my corporate parents?
Corporate parents must listen to the needs, fears and wishes of children and young people, and be determined and proactive in their shared efforts to address these.
By law corporate parents must carry out the following duties by law:
- be alert to matters which might adversely affect the wellbeing of looked after children and young people
- assess the needs of looked after children and young people for services and support they provide
- promote the interests of looked after children and young people
- provide opportunities for looked after children and young people to participate in activities designed to promote their wellbeing
- take action appropriate to ensure looked after children and young people access these opportunities and make use of our services and support
- take any other action considered appropriate to improve organisational functions to meet the needs of looked after children and young people
If you are Referred to
the Children’s Reporter
What is a referral – and what does it mean for me?
A referral is information received by the Children’s Reporter about a child or young person because they need help to sort out some of the problems in their life. Most of the information is received from the police, social work departments or schools. However, anyone can contact the Children’s Reporter if they are worried about a child or young person.
There are lots of different reasons why a child or young person might be referred to the Children’s Reporter. If a Children’s Reporter is worried about you, and decides that you need to come to a Children’s Hearing, then these reasons are called the ‘statement of grounds’.
These grounds may be because there are concerns about:
- your safety or welfare, and whether you are receiving care and protection at home
- that an adult has hurt a child or young person or someone in their family in some way
- not going to school
- getting in trouble with the police
- drinking alcohol or taking drugs
- behaviour that has been causing concern at home or school
What is a Children’s Reporter?
A Children’s Reporter (sometimes just called a Reporter) is the person who makes decisions about a child/young person to help them sort their problems out. For example, once a child/young person has been referred, it is the Children’s Reporter who decides whether or not that child/young person should attend a Hearing.
What is a Children’s Hearing?
A Children’s Hearing (sometimes just called a Hearing) is a legal meeting that children and young people are asked to go to with their families or carers to help them sort out their problems. Children’s Hearings are held in private. Panel Members, a Children’s Reporter and a Social Worker attend a Children’s Hearing and sometimes your lawyer or advocate and anyone else who may be supporting you will be there as well.
Panel Members are people from the local community who volunteer to sit on a Children’s Hearing. All Panel Members are given special training so that they can make decisions to help the children and young people who come to a Hearing.
There are three Panel Members at every Hearing and one of them will lead the Hearing – they are also known as the Panel Chair or Chair Person.
Will I have to go to a Children’s Hearing?
If you have been referred to the Children’s Reporter, you will get a letter from them to let you know. Your parents or carers will also get a similar letter. It will explain why you have been referred to the Reporter. The Reporter might then ask for some more information about you from your school or from the Social Work Department. Once they get this information, they will decide if you need to go to a Children’s Hearing. The Reporter will write to you again to let you know what they decide.
If you are asked to attend a Hearing, it will be because there are concerns about you. These concerns are called the reasons for the Hearing or the ‘statement of grounds’. You have to go because the law says your attendance is required, and the Hearing is about helping you. It is important that you are there to let the people at the Hearing know what you think and how you are feeling.
Sometimes, there might be special reasons for you not wanting to attend the Children’s Hearing. The Panel Members will make a decision about this before your Hearing, and your Reporter will keep you informed about this
What happens next?
Information will be posted to young people over the age of 12 before their Hearing is due to take place. The information will include the reason for the Hearing, what time it is, where it will be held and a copy of any reports that the Children’s Reporter received from social work, education, health, etc. A copy of this information will also be sent to parents or carers and Panel Members.
You have the right to have your voice heard. You can do this by talking to the Panel Members at the Hearing and telling them how you feel. If you are shy, you might prefer to complete a form called ‘Hearing About Me’, which you should complete before you go to the Hearing. You can either complete it and send it back to the Children’s Reporter who wrote to you about your Hearing, or you can bring it with you to the Hearing. Your parents or carers can help you to fill out the form if you need some help.
Because a Children’s Hearing is a legal process, it is important that you understand what is going on. If you have any questions before you attend a Hearing, there are lots of different people you could talk to for example, the Reporter whose details will be on the letter you have received about the Hearing, your social worker or your teacher. If you just want to have a chat with someone, try talking to your parents or carers or other young people who are in a similar situation to you.
Or the Scottish Child Law Centre can provide free legal advice – call 0800 328 8970 from a landline or from a mobile please call 0300 330 1421.
For more questions and answers visit the SCRA website.