The national Children's Panel is the largest legal tribunal in Scotland and makes decisions to help the lives of vulnerable children and young people.

Panel members generously give their time and skills to helping young people and are members of the community from a range of different backgrounds. They live or work in the local authority area in which they sit in on hearings.

Their role is to make decisions in the best interests of the children or young people at hearings.

Area Support Team

The Area Support Teams (ASTs) manage and support the Children's Panel at a local level.

We are in partnership agreement with Children's Hearings Scotland (CHS), Clackmannanshire, West Lothian and Stirling Councils to provide support to ASTs.

Volunteering for the Panel or an AST

Scotland's CHS relies on around 2700 people nationwide to give their time voluntarily to serve as members of the Children's Panel. Members must be aged 18 or over.

It is a hugely rewarding experience, and the National standards for Panel members document gives more information about what to expect as a panel or AST member:

National standards for panel members

ASTs require roughly 430 members across Scotland to give a considerable time commitment to support Panel members locally. Vacancies for a number of roles are advertised on the CHS website.

If you think being an AST member is for you, the Roles and responsibilities for AST members document gives more information:

Map of ASTs
Roles and responsibilities for AST members

For more information, or to record your interest in future AST vacancies, please contact:

Hazel Oliver, Clerk for Central and West Lothian AST
01324 506117

Role specific training is given for any position.


Frequently asked questions

  1. I have concerns about what view my employer might take to time off for Panel duties – what is my position?
  2. Could my occupation prevent me from becoming a panel member?
  3. Will I be out of pocket as a panel member?
  4. I already lead a busy work and family life. How much time will Panel duties actually require and how often?

I have concerns about what view my employer might take to time off for Panel duties – what is my position?

Panel Members are entitled by law to have "reasonable" time off, taking account of local circumstances and their individual employer’s staffing needs. In reality the vast majority of employers and Panel Members come to mutually suitable arrangements which work very well. Panel training and service allows the development of value skills which are viewed very positively by many employers. Members of the Children's Panel are ineligible for Jury Service during their appointment.


Could my occupation prevent me from becoming a panel member?

In order that children’s needs to be properly addressed families must enjoy a hearing free from any possible conflicts of interest. As a result people professionally involved in the Children’s Hearings System or in directly implementing Hearing decisions are in practice ineligible for Panel Membership, for example Social Workers, Police Officers and Residential Carers at Children’s establishments. Justices of the Peace who sit in the District Court are also deemed to have a conflict of interest. 


Will I be out of pocket as a panel member?

Panel members are not paid for their service but all can claim an allowance for loss of earnings, travel and subsistence connected with duties and training. The levels of these allowances are laid down by Scottish Ministers and can include reimbursement of childcare costs. 


I already lead a busy work and family life. How much time will Panel duties actually require and how often?

Panel Members are initially required to undertake Induction – Pre-Service training which is an intensive training course delivered over a 3 month period consisting of 6 full days (Saturday), visits to local resources and observations at hearings. This training will prepare you for the crucial decisions you will be required to be make to improve the lives of children in need. 

On completion of Pre-Service Training, Panel Members will be able to sit on hearings with ongoing training being delivered by West Lothian College to ensure your skills are maintained. 

Over the next 2 years, you will be required to complete further compulsory training and work towards completion of a PDA qualification which will equip you with the skills required to chair Hearings. 

In-Service training is also provided to Panel Members during the course of the year where a variety of interesting and informative subjects will be covered. Other types of training will also be offered to Panel Members as you progress through your panel career eg Refresher, Re-appointment Training - which are designed to refresh and compliment your existing skill base.

In addition to the aforementioned, monthly local training evenings are also provided which are designed to address local training needs and to provide up-to-date information on local resources. 

On-going training, both local and national, will play an integral part in your development as a Children's Panel Member and as such the Central and West Lothian AST believe that potential Panel Members should have a realistic expectation of the actual time commitment involved in joining the Panel.