April 2016 Vital Records News

April 2016

Vital Records News
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Tracking embalming practices informs and helps prepare future professionals

Beginning January 1, 2016, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) added a new question for funeral staff to answer when registering the fact of death. This question, “was or will the decedent be embalmed,” was added to collect disposition data at the request of the Program of Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota.

Increasingly, families are choosing cremation as a means of preparing the bodies of loved ones for final disposition. Whereas the first modern cremation occurred in the United States in 1876, as recently as 1990 the cremation rate in Minnesota was only 16%. Over the past 26 years, however, Minnesota’s cremation rate has risen steadily. Dr. Michael LuBrant, Director of the Program of Mortuary Science analyzed data provided by OVR for the first two months of 2016. He comments, “Minnesota’s cremation rate now averages 60.5%, making the preference for cremation in Minnesota the highest for all states located in the West-Northcentral region of the United States.” 

Although the preference for embalming remains common when burial is chosen, LuBrant said that, “until we began this research project, we did not know the extent to which families choosing cremation were also choosing embalming. An assumption in our research is that if a family chooses cremation with embalming, their preference is for services that incorporate the presence of the decedent’s body, and most likely include an open-casket viewing.” 

The preliminary analysis by the University of Minnesota shows that of families choosing cremation, only 10% are also choosing embalming. LuBrant hypothesizes “that the preference for embalming (and hence services and ceremonies with the decedent’s remains prepared for reviewal) may be higher (or lower) in certain areas of the state, and for certain populations of citizens, depending on factors that include diversity in the cultural and ethnic background of the decedent.”

With the assistance of OVR, the Program of Mortuary Science is working to inform the industry and to better educate its students about the variations in death care preferences of citizens residing throughout Minnesota. The University’s goal is to prepare students to work as funeral directors sensitive to the death care needs of an increasingly diverse population here in Minnesota. 

Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry: a safety net for families

The Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry (MFAR) protects the rights of putative fathers and adoptive families. A putative father is a man of any age who:

  • Thinks he may be the father of a child
  • Is not married to the child’s mother before or at the time of the child’s birth
  • Has not established paternity through a voluntary paternity acknowledgement or a court order.

MFAR serves as a safety net for putative fathers and adoptive families. It was created by the Minnesota Legislature in 1998 to stabilize the adoption process by placing time limits on a putative father’s opportunity to assert his rights.

MFAR is a tool to:

  • Determine the identity and location of a putative father interested in a minor child who is, or is expected to be, the subject of an adoption proceeding—now or later
  • Provide notice of the adoption proceeding to the putative father who is not otherwise entitled to notice
  • Provide a putative father an opportunity to participate in the adoption process or exercise his rights and establish paternity.

Minnesota law requires MFAR to be searched for putative fathers who have registered in relation to a child who is or may be the subject of an adoption in Minnesota. It also requires that the putative fathers who have registered to be notified before the adoption can be finalized. Men register voluntarily and to protect their rights, register before the birth or within 30 days of the child’s birth. Men must also update their registration should their contact information change in order to assure notification in the future.

When a search of MFAR identifies a man who has registered in MFAR for the child included in the adoption petition, he is notified of the adoption proceedings. The man can then exercise his rights as a father and establish paternity, or, consent to the adoption process.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) maintains MFAR. The registry database is a separate responsibility in the Office of Vital Records (OVR). Staff within OVR register putative fathers, conduct searches, and issue certifications of results. On March 31, MDH migrated the unsupported MFAR database to the Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C) System. All MR&C users now see a new MFAR tab at the top of their screen to the right of all the usual MR&C tabs (Home, Birth, Death, Customer Service, and Administration).

While integrated within MR&C, MFAR continues to be a distinct and unique database separate from vital records. Moving MFAR to the MR&C System allows MDH to use current technology to effectively maintain and support the registry. Using the MR&C tool also allows MDH to manage the registry much more efficiently, improve security, and reduce fraud. Only MDH personnel will have access to log in through the MFAR tab to register putative fathers, search the registry and certify search results that are presented to the courts.

For more information about MFAR see the MDH webpages for the Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry (MFAR).

National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week

Did you know that Americans are living 20 years longer than their grandparents’ generation?  Thanks largely to the work YOU do and all of us working together.

With every keystroke last year in 2015, you entered data for 69,087 births and 42,710 deaths in the Minnesota Registration & Certification system (MR&C) making you a part of the growing movement of people, communities and organizations with a goal of creating the healthiest nation in one generation.

National Public Health week is April 4-10, 2016. The Minnesota Office of Vital Records (OVR) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) applaud you for your impact on improving the health of all people and all communities in Minnesota and throughout our Nation. 

During the first full week of April each year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.

The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and communities. We strengthen the profession of public health; foster understanding, engagement and support for key public health issues; and directly influence public policy to improve global health.

Together we can make America the place where everyone has the best opportunity in the world for a long, healthy life. Thank you for your efforts to help meet the goal to make the U.S. the Healthiest Nation in One Generation by 2030.




Stop by OVR's exhibit and meet our staff at the following events:

Minnesota Network of Hospice & Palliative Care Annual Conference April 10 - 12, Bloomington.

Minnesota Health Information Management Association Conference, April 27 - 29, Rochester.

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Conference, May 2, Minnetonka.

University of Minnesota Mortuary Science Student Classroom Training, May 3, Minneapolis.

2016 Hospital Update (HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research
and Park Nicollet Institute), May 19-20, Minneapolis.

Minnesota Funeral Directors Association Annual Meeting and Conference, May 23-25, Red Wing.


Minnesota licensing centers no longer clip cards. Invalidated Minnesota driver's licenses and identification cards are now perforated with the word “VOID” on the left side of the card by the photo. This change was implemented in July 2015 to comply with federal law.

OVR advises that an unexpired Minnesota Driver’s License or ID card perforated with the word "VOID" is an acceptable form of identification with or without a receipt from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016: Office of Vital Records All Staff Meeting, 8:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. We'll respond to voice messages and emails following the meeting.


State Registrar
Molly Mulcahy Crawford


Deputy State Registrar
Heidi Granlund


Issuance Unit Supervisor and Anti-Fraud Coordinator
Brenda Shinaul


Registration & Amendments Supervisor
Krista Bauer


Birth & Death Amendments, Adoptions & Paternity Adjudications

Birth Certificates

Death Certificates

Local Issuance Help

MR&C Help