As a foster carer, it is likely that a child or young person is in your care because they are subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order which was put in place by a Children’s Hearing. Often, but not always, children or young people will have experienced the Children’s Hearings System before they live with foster carers.
When a child or young person is on a Compulsory Supervision Order
If a child or young person that you are looking after has a Compulsory Supervision Order, they will need to attend a Children’s Hearing at least once a year (unless the a decision is taken by a Pre hearing panel to excuse the child or young person).
As a foster carer you can submit a report or information to the Children’s Reporter before a Hearing if you wish the Children’s Panel or a Pre-hearing Panel to consider this information. You should try to get this to the Children’s Reporter at least 10 days before the Hearing to ensure that the Reporter can get this information to the Panel Members and other relevant persons three days before the Hearing. You can do this if you are deemed a relevant person or not. If Panel members or relevant persons don’t have written information three days before a hearing then Panel they may not be able to consider the report. Hearings are interested in all aspects of a child or young person’s wellbeing so brief information in a report written before or verbally at the hearing on what is going well for them, what challenges they are dealing with what is associated with or appears to influence their wellbeing, and their behavior and mood maybe helpful to the Panel in making decisions.
Being a relevant person
You can also write to the Children’s Reporter and ask that they consider you to be a relevant person if you have or have recently had a significant involvement in the upbringing of the child. There are no fixed rules in regard of what it means to have had a “significant involvement in the upbringing of the child” e.g. the significance of the involvement of a Foster Carer over a few months could differ between small babies and teenagers.
Rights of foster carers
As a foster carer you may have some rights in the Hearings System:
If you attend the Hearing, you can express your views there on the child or young person’s wellbeing if you have submitted a report previously or not. If you are not able to attend the Hearing and then it will be important for you to consider if you have anything you wish the Hearing to know and submit this in writing to the Children’s Reporter to give to the Panel before the Hearing.
- If you have been deemed in law to be a Relevant Person, you may appeal against the decision of the Children’s Hearing, including any specific conditions contained in the decision, within 21 days of the Hearing.
Rights of children and young people
It is important that foster carers are aware of children and young people’s rights before, during and after a Children’s Hearing. This will help children and young people feel more secure and prepared for their Hearing. At their Hearing, children and young people have the right to:
- Bring a representative, a lawyer, an advocate or friend in to the Hearing with them
- Ask to speak to the Panel Members on their own
- Ask for the Hearing to stop for a while so they can have a break to speak to their representative
- Ask for the Hearing to be continued/deferred to another date if they need more information or time to prepare
- Appeal against the decision of the Children’s Hearing within 21 days from the date of the Hearing
- Request another Hearing which can take place three months after the last Hearing
- Ask the Hearing to see them separately from their parents if they do not wish to have contact with them
- Complain if they are not happy with how they have been treated
If you have any questions about how best to support a child or young person attending a Hearing, you may contact the Children’s Reporter and he or she will be happy to help. Remember, you can also ask the Reporter for a Pre-Hearing visit. This helps you and the child/young person in your care have a better idea of what will happen at the Hearing.