Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater was one of 15 hospitals in Minnesota awarded certificates by the state Department of Human Services for helping families establish paternity for nearly 14,700 children through the state’s “Recognition of Parentage” program.
“This is quite an achievement since hospital stays are short and filled with many important activities,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Hospitals have done an excellent job of making the time to talk to both parents about the importance of paternity.”
Roughly one-third of almost 70,000 babies are born outside of marriage every year in Minnesota, The state is well below the national average of 40 percent of children born outside of marriage, and ahead of most other states in naming fathers and establishing paternity.
The state Human Services and Health departments and county child-support offices support hospital birth registrars in their work to introduce unmarried parents to paternity establishment at the time of their child’s birth.
DHS awarded certificates at the Excellence in Birth Registration Annual Conference sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health. Besides Lakeview, hospitals receiving awards included Albany Area Hospital and Medical Center; CentraCare Health System in Melrose; CentraCare Health System in Sauk Centre; District One Hospital-Faribault; Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor; Hutchinson Health Hospital; Madison Hospital; Meeker Memorial Hospital; Pipestone County Medical Center in Pipestone; St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee; St. John’s Hospital-Maplewood; St. Joseph’s Area Health Services in Park Rapids; Sleepy Eye Medical Center, and Windom Area Hospital
When a child is born to married parents, the husband is presumed to be the father. When a child is born to unmarried parents, the child does not have a legal father, and the child’s birth certificate will not show a father’s name unless paternity is established.
Paternity can be established by both parents signing the Minnesota Voluntary Recognition of Parentage form, having it notarized and filing it with the Office of the State Registrar, or by going to court.
Federal and state laws require hospitals to inform unmarried parents and provide them an opportunity to establish paternity at the hospital at the time of their child’s birth. Last year, 66 percent of the unmarried parents voluntarily established a legal father by signing the Recognition of Parentage before their newborns were discharged from the hospital.
Collaborative efforts to build awareness and educate families about paternity can help parents make more informed decisions about what is best for their family.
“More parents and providers see the benefits and importance of having fathers involved in the lives of their children. Hospitals are no longer asking if a father is going to be involved, but how he will be involved,” Jesson said. “We applaud the leadership hospitals are showing in this area.”
More information about paternity establishment can be found on the DHS web site.