What You Need To Know
There is a growing need to ensure America’s children have support from both parents. Establishing paternity helps provide for their wellbeing both financially and emotionally. Establishing paternity is the first step in ensuring children born to unmarried parents receive this support. The Virginia Paternity Establishment Program aims to educate and equip our partners with information on establishing paternity so that they may be able to better educate unmarried parents. Our partners include hospitals, providers, and community-based agencies. Each partner plays a unique role in educating unmarried parents around the state of Virginia.
Paternity establishment is voluntary for parents in the hospitals. All birthing facilities are required to offer each unmarried parent the opportunity to learn about this program and its benefits, rights and responsibilities and opportunity to complete the form prior to discharge. It is also important to give the unmarried family the opportunity to ask questions. Please review the following information on this page as well as in the Training section of this site for additional information. You may also feel free to contact one of our representatives at 866-398-4841 for assistance.
Hospitals Must Participate
- In 1994 Federal legislation required hospitals to implement a “Voluntary Paternity Program”
- In 1996, the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) determined there should be an in-hospital paternity establishment program to assist unmarried parents with a voluntary process at the time of birth and set forth guidelines for hospitals to follow
- Each state followed with regulations to ensure uniform processes were set in place to assist these parents
- In Virginia, the Department of Social Services (DSS); Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) oversees this program for the Commonwealth
- Veritas HHS is the contractor selected to manage the VPEP program which continues today under the supervision of DSS/DCSE
Not everyone understands the paternity acknowledgment process like you do. Explaining the process is very important and legally required. Most people appreciate the effort you make to help them. If the parents do not speak English use language line, call an interpreter, or follow the instructions given to you by your management.
Birth registrars are responsible for providing the best customer service possible for the patients in your facility. Please try to use the interview technique when discussing establishing paternity with new moms and dads. Always wear a smile! It really can make a difference. Know that we speak for the children of Virginia when we say, “Thank You” for all that you do every day.
The average hospital paternity establishment rate in Virginia is currently 74.18% (June 2018). It is imperative you calculate your rate to track performance and improve your statistics if they fall below this rate.
Birth registrars have access to the Office of Vital Records’ electronic birth certificate system. This system tracks each birth of married or unmarried parents. This information, along with other details, is entered into the system to prepare the child’s birth certificate. This system provides the “Births by Facility Report.” This report gives you the total number of married births, unmarried births, and total paternities established. You can use the calculator (below) to calculate your rates at any time.
Calculate your PEP rate by clicking on the image below and dowloading the spreadsheet.
Things You Should Share
Bring A Photo ID
It is very important both parents bring a valid photo ID to the hospital when the baby is being born. It is needed to complete the AOP form. A notary will need to verify each parents identity before she can certify the paperwork. Once this AOP is notarized it becomes an official state document that can not be destroyed. This document amends the official birth certificate by simply adding the legal father's name.
The AOP Form Can Not Be Completed Before the Birth of the Baby
Only after the baby has been born can the parents complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. An unmarried mother cannot add a father's name to the birth certificate using an AOP without him being present and voluntarily agreeing to sign the form.
Review the Paperwork
The birth certificate and AOP form must be completed in black ink and can not contain ANY errors. The birth registrar will review the parents' Rights & Responsibilities with them both orally and in writing. This gives parents an opportunity to gain answers to any questions they might have about the process.
The Virginia Paternity Establishment Program works together with OB/GYN offices, pediatrician offices, clinics, midwifery groups and day care providers to ensure that families are informed about the importance of establishing paternity. We do not expect you to know all there is to know about the establishment process, but we hope you will take an opportunity to learn more. Contact us today at 866-398-4841 and our staff will schedule time to educate your provider’s staff on paternity establishment.
It helps to reach unmarried parents before they go to the hospital for delivery so there is adequate time to consider the implications of signing an acknowledgment of paternity form. We would like your help in educating parents who are unmarried about the paternity establishment process. By having area agencies educate parents prior to their child’s birth and after, parents are better prepared to quickly make a well-informed decision. Contact us today at 1-866-398-4841 and our staff will schedule time to educate your agency’s staff on paternity establishment.