LANSING, Mich. – This August, Child Support Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging families to give their children the “dadvantage” by establishing paternity at birth.
“When a baby is born, establishing legal fatherhood – called paternity – can give the child a better sense of identity and ensure financial and emotional support from both parents so that the child’s needs are met,” said Erin Frisch, director of MDHHS’s Office of Child Support.
Children who have a legal father also have a right to their parents’ benefits, such as health insurance and Social Security, and can stay healthier through knowledge about the family’s complete medical history.
The Office of Child Support recently kicked off its “Give your child the dadvantage” campaign to educate parents about the importance of establishing paternity and the value of discussing paternity before the birth of their child. The office oversees the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity program, which provides information and training to birthing hospital staff about the benefits of establishing legal fatherhood for children born to unmarried parents.
The paternity process at the hospital upon birth of a baby is simple.To establish paternity, both parents should have photo identification and read and sign the affidavit the hospital gives them when the child is born. It’s free, and both parents should sign. From there, the hospital staff can answer any questions the parents may have.
Parents can learn more at mi.gov/dadvantage.
Gov. Rick Snyder issued a proclamation declaring August “Child Support Month” in Michigan, recognizing the nearly 1 million children who benefit from the state’s child support program.
MDHHS’s child support program provides parents of all income levels with assistance in obtaining financial support and medical insurance coverage for their children. The program helps by locating parents, establishing paternity, establishing child support orders and collecting and distributing child support payments.
MDHHS is also working to provide better information on how to navigate the child support program through community partners with the Office of Child Support’s new Agency Guide to Understanding Child Support. This resource is intended to train caseworkers at a variety of agencies, including those from Head Start, social service programs and workforce development programs, to help assist their clients with child support questions or issues.
The information has already been helpful, said Tami Scott, Families First supervisor for Wellspring Lutheran Services in Ingham County. “A staff member just let me know she utilized the process with one of her clients. Knowing where to go saved the family a lot of time.”
Child support information for parents, employers, hospitals and schools is located on the MDHHS website.