Sentara Martha Jefferson leads Virginia with highest paternity establishment rate
Health, Local

Sentara Martha Jefferson leads Virginia with highest paternity establishment rate

Rebecca Barnabi
father child smiling

The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and the Virginia Paternity Establishment Program (VPEP) have announced the top 10 Virginia hospitals with excellent performance in paternity establishment rates for 2022.

The hospitals continue to set a high standard by recording paternity establishment rates greater than the Commonwealth’s average of 77 percent, and exceed the projected state-mandated goal of more than 80 percent for the year.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville has the highest paternity establishment rate for 2022 with 84.34 percent.

“I feel proud that through my work I can help the children of Virginia grow up with a sense of identity that lets them know they are part of a family,” Marion Turner, lead birth registrar at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, said.

VPEP is sponsored by the VDSS Division of Child Support Enforcement, and is operated by Veritas-HHS. VPEP is offered to unmarried parents as an opportunity to establish paternity of newborn children by voluntarily acknowledging fatherhood during the hospital stay. VPEP supports paternity establishment if the unmarried parents decide later to add the father to the birth certificate. Fifty-three birthing hospitals in the Commonwealth promote paternity establishment through the VPEP.

“The benefits of establishing paternity are vast and vary from increasing a child’s self-esteem to establishing a more complete health history,” VPEP Project Manager Yesenia Peiker said. “It is imperative that we continually advocate for paternity establishment on behalf of the children. A child, who has an established bond with his or her father, has greater access to emotional support and social and economic opportunities.”

The average paternity establishment rate in the Commonwealth is 77 percent, which is a 1 percent increase from 2021. The upward trend is a notable achievement for the Commonwealth.

Inova Fair Oaks has a paternity establishment rate of 83.58 percent, followed by Sentara RMH’s 83.16 percent.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.