Coronavirus – attending Children’s Hearings
Coronavirus – update on Children’s Hearings – updated Thursday 14 January
In light of the ongoing restrictions, face to face Children’s Hearings are continuing as they are classed as an essential service. However, face to face Hearings are only taking place for a limited number of cases where it is necessary to secure a child and/or relevant person’s participation.
As a result of the increasing media focus on the new variant of COVID-19 across Scotland, we are implementing a more rigorous adherence to the Scottish Government’s FACTS to support staff and visitors use of our Hearings centres.
From Monday 18 January, face coverings must now be worn in the Hearing room and for the duration of the Hearing (unless you are exempt). This means face coverings must be worn from arrival to leaving the Hearing centre.
In addition, all Hearings will be reviewed to confirm whether they should take place face to face or virtually. Our Reporters will make these assessments in consultation with Social Work and Area Support Teams.
If there is any change to your Hearing, we will be in touch to let you know.
If you do have to attend a face to face Hearing, as well as wearing a face covering, please continue to follow physical distancing measures and sanitise your hands on entering and leaving the Hearings Suite.
Neil Hunter, SCRA’s Principal Reporter/Chief Executive Officer said: “We continue to work with all our partners in the Children’s Hearings System and we are extremely grateful for all their support during these ongoing challenging times. Our Hearing centres continue to be as safe as they can be and we are continuing to take proactive steps to ensure this.
“Our multi-agency recovery plan will be reviewed later this week to ensure it still meets current demands and we are being responsive to the needs of children, young people, their families and all Hearing centre users.”
If you are attending a face to face Hearing, you will receive a notification letter from the Children’s Reporter, along with a flyer letting you know what to expect. Things are a bit different to before. Find out what to expect here.
Consulting with young people
As part of our preparation, we have also been consulting with Hearings-experienced young people. They have come up with some very welcome and creative ideas which are helping us to develop our plans. We have published a report aimed at children and young people letting them know that we have listened to their views and comments and to let them know what we are doing.
While face to face Hearings are taking place, virtual Hearings are continuing and they will continue to take place for the foreseeable future.
If you are due to attend a virtual Hearing, you will receive a letter from the Children’s Reporter giving you more information about how you can participate via a tablet laptop/PC or mobile phone.
With the letter about the Hearing, you will also receive an information sheet which will explain how you can join a virtual Hearing.
The Virtual Hearings Team will then send instructions to help you with the set up. This will be followed by a test to make sure you are prepared for the day of the Hearing.
The information that is being sent to children, young people and relevant persons, includes top tips about virtual Hearings. It also provides information about rights and reminds children and young people that you have the right to have a trusted adult, an advocate or lawyer attend the virtual Hearing to provide support.
If you cannot attend a virtual Hearing
We know it might not be possible for every child, young person or relevant person to join their Hearing remotely. We are doing all we can to make this happen, but if children, young people and relevant persons cannot join their Hearing virtually, they can still provide their views.
This can be done by emailing the information to the local team mailbox and the Reporter will then ensure this information is given to the Panel Members. This information is included in the letter sent to children, young people and relevant persons.
If you need to contact one of our local teams, please contact them via email or telephone. A list of local email addresses and phone numbers is available here.
There is other people who can help you. You can find a list of Legal Representatives in your area here.
You can find more information about advocacy, plus a list of all the Advocacy Organisations in your area at: www.hearings-advocacy.com/contact-someone-local/
You can contact Parentline on 08000 28 22 33 or via their website.
We have also created a set of questions and answers which might help you if participating in a virtual Hearing. You can read them here.
Taking part in a virtual Hearing? Check out our top tips animation! More detailed advice is available here.
The Scottish Government has issued guidance on looked after children and children’s hearings following last week’s emergency Coronavirus legislation. The guidance document, which is aimed at stakeholders, gives an overview of key provisions in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. You can read the guidance document here.
Under the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, there are some temporary changes to the law. These changes are only in force for as long as the new temporary legislation is in force. This information sheet is designed to help children, young people and families understand some of the changes. Click here to find out more.