What is changing?
During December 2019 and January 2020 (from 2 December 2019 for West Lothian), the practice about who goes into the hearing at the start will be changing. The new practice will be that the following people go into the hearing at the start:
· the child
· the relevant persons for the child
· any representative for the child or a relevant person
· any safeguarder (if there is one)
· a social worker (as lead professional) for the child.
[In exceptional circumstances, where the local authority considers that a social work manager also needs to be present to assist consideration of the child’s case the Reporter will bring both the social worker and the social work manager into the hearing at the outset. ]
After the hearing has started, the chair of the hearing will decide whether and when other people are to come into the hearing.
Why is the change happening?
The change is being made for two main reasons:
i) The chair of the hearing has a statutory duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the number of person’s present at a children’s hearing at the same time is kept to a minimum.
ii) Research and information consistently shows that children and young people want the number of people in their hearings to be kept as low as possible.
The change therefore reflects the statutory provisions by better enabling the chair of the hearing to proactively manage the attendance of persons at a hearing. It also reflects the clear preference of children and young people. It is thought that good management of attendance is likely to increase the effective participation of children and young people in their hearings. The Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership has approved the change. Further, the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament has recommended that the statutory provisions governing the number of people who should be present at any one time be more strictly enforced.
Therefore, a test for change shall begin across our Central locality during December 2019 and January 2020. Clackmannanshire, Stirling and West Lothian will begin during December 2019 and Falkirk during January 2020.
What does it mean for you?
I attach a Briefing Note for Partners which explains how the test for change will operate in more detail.
Once the test of change is up and running the Area Support Team will seek to evaluate the impact it has made.
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