RADFORD – Ten Virginia hospitals, including one in the New River Valley, are being recognized for exceptional performances with the Virginia Paternity Establishment Program (PEP) by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS).
VDSS’ Division of Child Support Enforcement sponsors PEP, which is operated by the Center for the Support of Families. The program offers unmarried parents the opportunity to establish paternity of their newborns by voluntarily acknowledging paternity prior to leaving the hospital. The Commonwealth has a total of 59 medical facilities serving parents statewide.
“Establishing paternity strengthens the bond between a father and his child and gives the child emotional, social and economic opportunities,” said VDSS Commissioner Martin D. Brown. “Virginia’s outstanding birthing hospitals pave the way for a brighter future for these children.”
Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Radford received marks of 78.52, ranking it number 6 in the Commonwealth.
For the second year in a row, Warren Memorial Hospital (WMH) has ranked as the “Top Hospital” in the Commonwealth with a paternity establishment rate of 81.07 percent, an increase from last year. Kim Shirley, Women’s Care Center director at WMH, said, “The staff of Women’s Care Center knew it would be hard to beat last year’s record. Our nurses met with parents outside the hospital, sent acknowledgement of paternities overseas to military fathers, and provided information about acknowledging paternity at community events.”
In 2011, over 40% of all births in Virginia were to unmarried parents. Currently, Virginia’s hospital paternity establishment averages 67 percent.
“Virginia is fortunate to have committed birth registrars and hospital staff who understand the importance of this program. We want to make a difference in every child’s life by certificate,” said Lisa Cauthorne, program manager with the Center for the Support of Families, the state’s in-hospital paternity vendor.