Barbara Reid from the Children's Hearings Training Unit told the
Education and Culture Committee
providing advocacy for children at hearings would be a "huge step forward in protecting children".
The committee was continuing its inquiry into decision making on whether children should be taken into care on 15 January 2013.
The inquiry focuses on the decision-making processes involved in determining whether a child should be removed from the family home and taken into care and whether these decision-making processes are working for children and their families.
At the moment there are 16,000 looked-after children in Scotland.
Ms Reid said children have the right to take someone with them to a hearing but this was still not happening.
Bernadette Monaghan from Children's Hearings Scotland told MSPs when the
Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011
came into force in June 2013 they were aiming for a "much more consistent approach", after the committee raised previous witnesses' concerns about varied approaches to hearings across local authorities.
Hugh McNaughtan from the Children's Panel Chairmen's Group and Malcolm Schaffer from the Scottish Children's Reporter also gave evidence.