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Postcard pilot to gather feedback from children at hearings

An initiative is being trialled at children’s hearings to encourage children and young people to share feedback on their experiences.

Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) and the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) are launching a postcard pilot programme. The pilot, in the Moray and Central and West Lothian areas, is being launched at the start of Care Experienced Week, and will run until March 2024.

QR code

The postcards contain a QR code that links to a new feedback web page where children can directly give views about their hearings to CHS and SCRA. The organisations will collaborate to respond to the feedback, including passing it on to other bodies such as local councils if appropriate.

At the end of each hearing, Panel Members will offer children a feedback postcard. If the child is not present, the card can be given to a relative or caregiver to pass on. The goal is to be proactive in gathering children's perspectives.

Direct feedback essential

“We want to build on our efforts to encourage children to tell us what they think,” said Mel McDonald, Complaints Management Officer at Children’s Hearings Scotland. “Hearing directly from them about their experiences is essential.”

Children can share feedback on what went well or on what needs improvement. The input will allow CHS and SCRA to enhance the hearings process from the viewpoint of those it most impacts. The postcard pilot aligns with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s requirement that all public bodies have child-friendly complaint procedures in place by 2024.

Separate appeals process

The two organisations, which hold the legal status of Corporate Parents, stress that feedback will not challenge panel decisions, for which there is a separate appeals process. Constructive criticism and complaints help CHS and SCRA identify learning opportunities.

CHS and SCRA are committed to upholding children’s rights and enhancing their participation in the hearings process. The trial will be evaluated and, if successful may be expanded across Scotland and made permanent.