YW Paternity Specialist Haldi Shares Insights
The National Child Support Enforcement Association’s Spring 2009 news magazine, Child Support Quarterly, features an article written by YoungWilliams’ Wyoming Paternity Program Specialist, Janice Haldi. The article entitled “Seven Steps to Building a Strong In-Hospital Paternity Program” details ways to increase awareness of the benefits of paternity establishment for children born out of wedlock and engage hospitals in the state’s paternity acknowledgment program.
Providing unwed parents an opportunity to legally acknowledge the paternity of their child while they are still in the hospital increases the number and percentage of children in a state who have legal fathers. It is important to children to have two legal parents for a number of reasons, including:
- Identity – The father’s name can be listed on the child’s birth certificate. This will help the child feel like he or she belongs to both parents.
- Relationship – A father-child relationship is important to a child. The father and child deserve to know and enjoy each other. This is easier if the man is the child’s legal father.
- Family Ties – A child may also come to know the father’s side of the family. This will help the child feel like he or she is a member of both parents’ families.
- Medical – A doctor may need to know the family medical histories of both parents in case the child has health problems.
- Insurance – The child may be able to get health insurance or medical support through the father’s employer, union, or military service.
- Dependent Benefits – If the father dies, the child may be eligible for Social Security, pensions, inheritance rights, veteran’s dependent benefits, and/or life insurance.
- Financial Support – Both parents are responsible for supporting their child. When paternity is legally established, the child has rights to support from both parents.
With a background in education and health care, Janice has the right skill set to serve as a resource to hospital staff, who must present the acknowledgment form to parents at the time of a child’s birth. She has collaborated with hospitals, the state child support agency, and other offices to develop a campaign theme and slogan, “Take the first step for your child – establish paternity,” in order to encourage parents and health care professionals to participate in the effort to ensure that Wyoming children have two legal parents.
In addition to visiting hospitals and training hospital personnel, Janice has developed a newsletter, PEP Talk, that is disseminated to hospital administrators;, staff; public health nurses; the state welfare, health, and Medicaid agencies, as well as other stakeholders. The acronym "PEP” stands for Paternity Establishment Percentage and represents Wyoming’s goal to substantially increase the percentage of Wyoming children with legal fathers. With the out-of-wedlock birth rate hitting record highs, Janice and Wyoming hospitals are challenged to keep ahead of the curve. This requires commitment, resources, diligence, and most of all, a sense of mission. Janice summed it up, “The bottom line is that paternity acknowledgement benefits children, parents, and families, and the collaborative effort among the state, health care providers, and unwed parents will truly make a difference in the well-being of Wyoming children.”