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FairfaxNewsHospitals lauded for efforts to establish paternity

Hospitals lauded for efforts to establish paternity

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Just over three-quarters of unmarried mothers who gave birth in Virginia hospitals in 2021 had the paternity of their children established, an increase from 2020 and a positive step, state officials said.

The Virginia Paternity Establishment Program, or VPEP, offers unmarried parents the opportunity to establish paternity for newborn children. In 2021, more than 33,000 births in Virginia were to unmarried parents, and the commonwealth’s paternity-establishment rate climbed to 76 percent compared to 73.6 percent a year before.

Establishing paternity not only affirms a father’s legal rights and responsibility, but it also ensures the child has greater access to emotional support and other social and economic opportunities, officials said. VPEP also supports paternity establishment should unmarried parents decide later that they would like to add the father to the birth certificate.

“Research strongly indicates that children whose fathers are involved throughout childhood have more positive outcomes – economically, academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally,” said Barbara Lacina of the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). “The child also has the opportunity for an expanded family support system that includes the father and the father’s side of his or her family.”

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Each year, VDSS, VPEP and Veritas HHS recognize the top 10 Virginia hospitals with the highest rates of paternity establishment. The hospital achieving the highest rate in 2021 was Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center (MCRC) in Richmond, which tallied a rate of 88.31 percent.

“We are so proud of this accomplishment for MRMC Birthplace and the hard work of our unit,” said the Bon Secours director of women’s-health services, Amy Daly. “We want to thank Connie Vaughan, Krystal Cobb, Sharica Kennedy, Jocy Vuiller and Catherine Bowling for all their hard work. They work so hard every day and continue to be dedicated to our families by making sure they have the opportunity to establish paternity.”

Rounding out the top five were Inova Loudoun Hospital (85%); Lewis-Gale Hospital, Montgomery (83.1%); Stafford Hospital Center (83.1%); and Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (82.1%). Inova Fairfax Hospital ranked eighth on the list at 81.8 percent.

For information on the benefits of establishing paternity in Virginia, see the Website at dss.virginia.gov.

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