March 2018 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

March 2018

Realignment and Back to Basics Approach

OVR organizational structure
OVR has 37 full-time staff in the four functional units.


Effective February 28, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) realigned its organizational structure to focus on operational functions, embrace staff changes, and adopt a “back to basics” approach to guide the Minnesota system of vital records.

Last year vacancies in OVR provided an opportunity for the State Registrar, Molly Crawford, to consider operations and the organizational structure for core functions. After examining how other states accomplish similar work and after looking at workforce best practices provided by the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, the national membership organization for vital records and vital statistics professionals, Molly took action to restructure OVR units and add positions.

OVR is pleased to announce that Krista Bauer is the Deputy State Registrar and Supervisor of the Registration and Fulfillment Unit. As the Deputy, she will oversee the core functions of registering and certifying records. This includes activities such as correcting and amending records, filing parentage documents, registering for the Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry, searching the registry, and fulfilling requests for certificates, documents and data. Krista will also work with the State Registrar on legislative and rule changes, guiding partners and professionals involved in the statewide vital records system, and share her expertise for registration and issuance matters.

OVR formed a new unit, Security and Records Management, under the leadership of Brenda Shinaul. In her new role, Brenda will develop a plan to strengthen security, reduce risks, and prevent fraud. Brenda will have more interactions with partners and an expanded role in assuring proper use of and access to MR&C. Brenda oversees OVR’s work related to entering and correcting historical records.

Another unit, Statewide System and Application Support, brings together staff who work on data quality, performance, education and awareness, MR&C technical support, and constituent and partner support including the OVR Customer Service Desk. Molly expects to post the supervisor position for this unit in the next few months with the hope of attracting highly qualified candidates who can help OVR continue its efforts to improve processes and promote uniform service delivery.  

A new position and a hire for a vacant position also fill out the OVR Customer Service Desk. Five staff provide professional support to partners in vital records, users of MR&C, and our constituents, customers, and members of the public.

Along with these structural changes, OVR is adopting a “back to the basics” approach in all aspects of Minnesota vital records. OVR will be examining practices and policies, the interpretation of laws, and opportunities to improve.


Do you or your customers need to contact the Office of Vital Records?

For all questions and support needs, please contact the OVR Customer Service Desk. The Customer Service Desk is the primary resource and support to partners and the public. Staff at the Customer Service Desk will seek assistance when subject-matter expertise is necessary to answer questions and resolve problems.

Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry Promotional Materials Available

In addition to overseeing the statewide system of vital records, staff in the Office of Vital Records (OVR) also manage the Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry (MFAR).

The Minnesota Legislature created MFAR in 1998, 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.
  • 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.
  • Stabilize the adoption process by placing time limits on a putative father's opportunity to assert his rights.

MFAR serves as a safety net for adoptive families and for men who want to protect their rights.

OVR has outreach materials including posters and their acrylic displays with built-in pamphlet holders. These materials are helpful to professionals who work with birth registration and families. Due to storage space constraints, OVR must distribute the poster displays before the end of March. You may order a display, posters and pamphlets and the Minnesota Department of Health will ship them at no charge. OVR has a limited supply available. Only 45 plastic brochure and poster holders are left.

If your office or program is interested in these materials complete the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption Registry Order Form and email it to Specify if you want the poster display and posters, pamphlets, or all three. Also, specify the amount of each you prefer. OVR will do its best to fulfill your order.

For more information about MFAR, see Minnesota Statutes, section 259.52 or the Minnesota Department of Health MFAR Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

MFAR poster, poster holder and tri-fold brochures
MFAR poster and poster stand with attached brochure holder

Vital Records Training

For county vital records office professionals

The Office of Vital Records (OVR), in association with the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO), held a training session for county vital records office professionals on Monday, February 12, 2018.

Molly Crawford, State Registrar, opened the session with ‘Minnesota Birth Certificate Application; Helping us Standardize & Achieve Uniform Service Delivery.’ She reviewed reasons for the revisions including MDH’s logo changes and statutory requirements for state documents to be accessible and written in plain language as well as clarity by adding instructions and allowing requestors to select more than one tangible interest category.

Tony Orsello, general manager for Northstar, the company in Brooklyn Park, Minn. that prints and distributes security paper for all Minnesota counties gave the next presentation. Tony described the security features of the paper Minnesota counties use for certified vital records documents, and gave statistics on the paper produced and shipped in 2017. If you thought your county has been busy, here is why; Northstar shipped 1,715,700 documents in 459 individual orders to Minnesota County Vital Records Offices throughout the state. 

Officer Christopher Rothwell, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Minneapolis Port of Entry demonstrated how to detect fraudulent identity documents. He also explained how to compare identification documents to the person at the counter in a professional and dignified manner.  


County vital records office professionals at training on February 12, 2018.

Deputy Christian Freichels, Task Force Officer, FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force (and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office) reviewed domestic terrorism including the culture and activities of anti-government extremists called Sovereign Citizens.  He shared information, stories and tips on how to manage situations and put safety first. Sovereign Citizens often seek documents and services that vital records offices do not or cannot provide.

Pamela Jo Johnson, MPH, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Research & Reporting presented “When Records Become Statistics – Looking beyond the Numbers.”  She demonstrated the importance of looking beyond the summary statistics since there are differences that vary geographically, as well as by various social and demographic factors.

The MACO Vitals Session on Tuesday, February 13 focused on building capacity and knowledge in the vital records workforce. Michael Schommer, Communications Director, Minnesota Department of Health reviewed how to construct communications and deal with sensitive topics, media requests and difficult conversations. Arden Fritz, Legal Affairs Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Health, gave the legal perspective on how to apply statues and rules to every day operations and complicated requests for data and documents. Molly Crawford rounded out the session with Vital Records System Updates.

Other news...

County vital records offices and home births

The majority of births in Minnesota occur in hospitals. For hospital births, data is collected from the mother, and the mother’s and newborn’s medical records. A birth registrar or other staff person enters the information into Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C), the statewide vital records system. Most county vital records offices mail a Parent Notice printed from MR&C to the parents of the newborn. Parents use the parent notice to verify what will appear on the birth certificate, request corrections (if needed), and order certificates. Either the hospital or a county vital records office may make corrections.

Some mothers choose to give birth at home. In 2017, 955 (just over one percent) of the 67,541 births in Minnesota were home births. The midwife present at the time of birth or the parents of the newborn collect birth registration information on Office of Vital Records (OVR) worksheets. Home birth worksheets and forms are only available by request from OVR. The midwife or parents send the worksheets to OVR for validation and entry into MR&C. The county vital records office or the Office of Vital Records mails a parent notice to the new parents. BEST PRACTICE: County vital records offices should assist home birth parents with parent notice corrections.

Parents, or anyone inquiring about registering a birth that occurred outside of a health care facility, should call the Office of Vital Records Customer Service Desk at 651-201-5970. Customer Service Desk staff will refer the caller to a staff member who will assist with home birth or delayed birth questions and information. See the MDH Information for Local Issuance Offices Reference Information webpage under Home Births.

Forgot your MR&C password?

As part of MR&C’s migration to Amazon Web Services, OVR has had to find a new way to manage MR&C user names and passwords. We will do this with an application named Keycloak. MR&C and Keycloak will work seamlessly together, and – as long as you know your user name – allow you to set or reset (change) your password without calling the MR&C Support line. Watch for more information as we get closer to implementation.

Thirty percent - Birth Registrar Training

Birth registrars collect and enter birth registration information into MR&C for births that occur in, or on the way to, their health care facilities. Birth certificates are one result of the information collected. The Nation’s official vital statistics are another outcome of birth registration information. Whether it is for a birth certificate or aggregated health or demographic information, uniform registration of births is extremely important.

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) expects new birth registrars to complete two classes within six months of becoming authorized users of MR&C: Applying Best Practices for Reporting Medical and Health Information on Birth Certificates and Birth Registration 101.

In 2017, OVR added 129 new birth registrars to MR&C. Only about one-third of new birth registrars have completed one or both classes.

See the Minnesota Department of Health Birth and Fetal Death Registration Information for Hospital Staff webpage for specifics about both classes.

For Office of Vital Records Contacts, click below