The Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records (OVR), the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Support Division (CSD), and the Minnesota State Court Administrator’s Office (MSCAO), are working together to improve the accuracy and completeness of parentage information on Minnesota birth records. A project that began about 18 months ago is now expanding statewide.
In May 2015, a small quality improvement project involving these three state agencies and four child support offices including Dakota, Ramsey, Stearns, and Douglas County introduced and began using the “certificate of adjudication” form to streamline the process to update children’s birth records when the courts adjudicated parents. Mothers’ marital status drives which parents are listed on birth records. Births are registered based on the parent who gave birth and that parent’s spouse. When the parent who gave birth is unmarried, a second parent is registered or added to a child’s birth record only when paternity is established or by court order.
When paternity is established by court order, parents are not always informed that more action is needed to update their child’s birth record. And, even when parents are informed, data indicated that many parents rarely followed through in making a request to OVR, supplying a certified court order, and paying the $40 fee. Birth records that do not reflect legal parentage can be a problem for families, child protection services, child support, law enforcement and others. The pilot project created a process and mechanism to file paternity adjudications with OVR using a form similar to one used to replace birth records after adoption.
One of the project’s goals was to gather data about the effectiveness of the form and process. Information from the project indicates that more birth records are being updated by OVR, fewer rejections and problems are being experienced by county child support offices that are participating, and court administrators are supporting the effort by certifying forms and informing parents. In fact, almost all requests to update the birth record have been fulfilled in 2016. According to the OVR Registration and Amendments Supervisor, Krista Bauer, only
two out of 474 forms were incomplete - a less than one percent rejection rate. “This pilot is a huge success. Our staff have the information they need; we’ve cut our processing time considerably; and fewer child support offices are frustrated by rejected requests.”
With the court’s support, the project is expanding statewide for voluntary participation by all county child support offices. The state agencies are working together to further refine the process, consider court-ordered adjudications outside of the child support program, and discuss options to sustain the effort permanently.
Fall-related deaths rising faster in Minnesota
The rate of fatal falls in
Minnesota is climbing faster than in the U.S. as a whole. Since 2000, the rate
doubled. And, in 2013, for the first time, the age-adjusted rate in Minnesota
was double that of the U.S. and nearly four times the lowest state.
According to experts in injury and violence
prevention, the wide difference in fall mortality between Minnesota and other states
is likely due to how states collect and report data on falls.
Further, preliminary data for 2016
from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that Minnesota is
now fourth in the U.S. for deaths due to unspecified falls.
Any cause of death needs to be reported as
specifically and as precisely as possible. Physicians should specify the type and circumstances
of every fall. Death records listing 'fall' as the
cause or as a contributing factor are referred to medical examiners for review. See the Minnesota Department of Health Death Registration Information for Physicians web pages for Fall “specificity” needed on death records under What's New?
Data about fall-related deaths can help prevent falls and unintentional injuries.
Certificates for veterans
Veterans Day, November 11, 2016, is an official public holiday to honor military veterans for their service. The arrival of the holiday is a reminder to local issuance office personnel that VA birth and death certificates have specific request item types in MR&C.
Complimentary VA certificates are available at Minnesota county issuance offices and from the Office of Vital records. The veteran, surviving spouse or next of kin of a veteran, a Veterans Services Officer or a representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain a VA certificate by completing an application and presenting appropriate identification.
Issuance offices must process requests for VA certificates by selecting “Certified birth certificate (VA)” or “Certified death certificate (VA)”. Issuance offices must not waive fees and issue regular certificates. More than one VA certificate can be issued. Complimentary VA certificates are issued to help families and veterans present claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; the certificates contain a statement limiting them to VA use only.
Staff at funeral homes and local issuance offices should work with their local VA officers to make sure that records are correct before getting any certificates. Just as for regular certificates, any changes needed after a VA certificate has been issued require an amendment, fees and documentation.