An explanation of some of the words used by the Children's Tribunal System.
A referral is when information about a child or young person is sent to the Children’s Convenor (see below for a definition of the Convenor). Anyone can make a referral when they have concerns about a child or young person and they believe that legal steps are needed to ensure that the child or young person gets the right care, protection, guidance and direction. Children and young people can be referred to the Convenor for lots of different reasons, for example:
If they have not been attending school
If they have been in trouble with the police
If their behaviour is violent or destructive
If they have been misusing drugs or alcohol
If they have been abused or neglected
This is the person who decides whether or not a child or young person should attend a Hearing (see below for a definition of a Hearing). They also have a number of roles supporting the Tribunal process ensuring that it is fair and lawful and that it has the right information to make decisions.
Child, Youth and Community Tribunal
The Child, Youth and Community Tribunal (sometimes called the Tribunal or CYCT) is where decisions are made about children and young people under the age of 18 in the Bailiwick of Guernsey who may need compulsory intervention so that they receive the help or support they need.
Tribunal Members (also called CYCT Members)
Tribunal Members are ordinary people from the local community who have been given special training so that they can make decisions to help the young people who come to a Hearing. Three Tribunal Members sit at every Hearing, with at least one male and one female member.
A Tribunal Hearing, often referred to as a Hearing, is a legal meeting to obtain information and opinions in order to make a decision about a child or young person. It is held in an informal setting as opposed to a court room, around a table where everyone can have their say.
Children's Convenor’s Meeting
Not to be confused with a Tribunal Hearing, a Convenor Meeting is a legal meeting which takes place before a Hearing takes place. The purpose of this meeting is to identify who should attend the Tribunal Hearing, to decide whether the reasons for the Hearing set out in the Convenor’s Statement are agreed and to identify what would help the Hearing to run smoothly.
This is the legal term for the people who have a right to attend a Hearing and Children's Convenor Meeting. They will receive information about the child or young person and have a say on whether they agree with the concerns about the child. The child is always a party, as are parents, carers and the people who look after a child. Professionals, like social workers and teachers, are not parties but can attend the Hearing.
This means being able to understand and take part in the Hearing. The Tribunal members must make sure that everyone, including children and young people, can understand and take part in the Hearing. All children and young people have a right to attend the Hearing and to have the opportunity to have their say on the decisions that will be made about them.
The Child Welfare Principles
These are the legal rules that guide how the Tribunal, Court and professionals delivering public services must think and act when providing support to a child or young person or making decisions about them. You can view the Child Welfare Principles here.
The Child Welfare Checklist
This is the checklist that the Tribunal, Court and professionals delivering public services must use when making decisions about a child’s upbringing. It provides a list of the key things that we must consider, like the child’s needs, any harm that they have suffered, their parent’s ability to meet their needs, the child’s wishes and feelings and the effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances. You can view the checklist here.
This is the legal order or document produced by the Tribunal. It means the Committee for Health and Social Care and any other person named has a duty to provide the supervision, support and services that a child might need. The Care Requirement might say where a young person or child must live and can include other conditions which must be followed. A Care Requirement is reviewed by the Tribunal at least once a year to decide whether it should be continued, changed, or stopped. The purpose of a Care Requirement is to protect a child from harm, promote their health, welfare and development and assist their parents or carers in providing adequate care, protection, guidance and control.
An Interim Care Requirement
This is a temporary care requirement that Tribunal Members can make when they are unable to make a final decision but have concerns about a child or young person. It lasts for a short period of time, but another interim care requirement can be made if required.
Emergency Child Protection Order (also called an ECPO)
This is the legal order which aims to protect children and young people who are suffering or at imminent risk of suffering serious harm. An Emergency Child Protection Order is made by the Juvenile Courts in Guernsey and Alderney.
Sometimes the Tribunal Members are unable to make a decision on the day of the Hearing. This may be because they need more information about the young person, so they may adjourn (stop) the Hearing and continue (re-arrange) the Hearing at a later date.
The Committee (for Health and Social Care)
You will often hear us refer to the Committee. This is because the Committee for Health and Social Care has a range of responsibilities and duties relating to children and young people and the Tribunal. These responsibilities are generally carried out by social workers and other staff members and include providing reports and information to the Convenor and Tribunal, attending Hearings of the Tribunal, providing supervision, support and services to children and taking steps to ensure that the care requirement is followed.
This is the legal process when the court is asked to review a decision made by the Tribunal when a person believes that the Tribunal has made a mistake. Those who are considered Parties can make an appeal, as can the Committee for Health and Social Care. An appeal must be made within 21 days of the date of the Tribunal's decision. If you are unsure about appealing, you should speak to the Children’s Convenor.
This is one of our legal terms which means the involvement or interference in the family life of a child by a public body (e.g. social services or police) whether or not the child and/or their parents agrees to this.
Safeguarder/Family Proceedings Advisor
A Safeguarder (sometimes known as a Family Proceedings Advisor) is someone who is appointed by the Convenor, Tribunal or Court to make sure that a young person’s interests are looked after. Not all young people need to have a Safeguarder.
Sometimes if the people at a hearing have very differing views to each other, or the Tribunal Members feel they need more information to allow them time to make a decision, they will appoint a Safeguarder. A Safeguarder is independent from the social worker, Convenor and the Tribunal Members and would speak to everyone involved especially the child or young person, to help them build up a better picture. They will sometimes write a report for the Tribunal Members and will attend Tribunal Hearings.
These are people independent to the Tribunal who are appointed to observe Tribunal Members to ensure that they continue to meet the expectations of the role. They provide feedback to the President of the Tribunal on the conduct, behaviour and practice of Tribunal members helping ensure that we are always learning, developing and supporting our Tribunal Members.
This is one of our legal terms used to describe the time that a child spends with a parent, carer, brother, sister or other family member as a result of a decision made by the Tribunal or Court. Children and young people tell us that they would prefer us to use the terms meeting, seeing or staying in touch with friends and family or the people that care (TACT – Language that Cares).
This is the term used when the Juvenile Court decides that a young person who has committed an offence can have their circumstances considered by the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal rather than the Court impose a sentence.
Proportionality is a key concept in how family law operates here in the Bailiwick and more widely. In often means achieving a fair balance between the responsibility of the State to ensure children and young people are safe from harm and the fundamental rights of children, parents and carers to respect for their private and family life. It means that decision makers must justify that any interference with a person’s rights is justified and necessary.
These are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of what age you are, where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life.