The Children's Hearings System is Scotland's unique care and justice system for children and young people in need of care, protection and support.
The Children's Reporter is managed by the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration and the role of the Children's Reporter is to mange access to the Children's Hearing System. Referrals can be received from anyone who has a concern for a child's welfare and protection, including members of the public. The Children's Reporter will decide if a Hearing is necessary for the care and protection of a child/young person based on the information they receive. The system is unique because it is unsalaried, lay tribunal members (panel members) who are the decision makers at children's hearings. Decisions are made after considering the needs, circumstances and best interests of the children and young people before them.
The Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 created Area Support Teams (ASTs) to support Children's Panel members in their local area. There are twenty-two ASTs across Scotland playing a critical role in the delivery and administration of the Children's Panel. ASTs act on behalf of the National Convener in recruiting, supporting and monitoring panel members locally.
The Area Convener (AC) and Depute Area Convener (DAC) lead a team of volunteers and are supported by local authority clerking staff. The role includes responsibilities such as chairing AST meetings, delegating a range of tasks and supporting volunteer AST and panel members.
More information about ASTs and the Children's Hearings System can be found at http://www.chscotland.gov.uk/.