Updated OCSE's Video: "The Power of Two: Voluntarily Acknowledging Paternity"
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
DATE: June 8, 2006
TO: ALL IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: Update of OCSE's Video on "The Power of Two: Voluntarily Acknowledging Paternity"
I am pleased to provide you with an updated version of the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE) video on "The Power of Two: Voluntarily Acknowledging Paternity."
This video was originally developed to help States comply with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which requires that all unwed mothers and fathers be provided an oral, as well as written, explanation of their legal rights, responsibilities, and consequences of voluntarily signing a paternity acknowledgment.
Over the last several years, it has become increasingly apparent that, in addition to establishing paternity, one of the best steps parents can take to improve the well-being of children is to raise them in a safe, stable, and healthy environment. With that in mind, the Healthy Marriage Initiative, administered by the Administration for Children and Families, was created in 2002 by President George W. Bush to help couples who have chosen marriage gain greater access to marriage education services, on a voluntary basis, where they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a healthy marriage. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which reauthorized the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, builds on the initiative by authorizing $150 million to support programs designed to help couples form and sustain healthy marriages and to promote responsible fatherhood.
The child support enforcement community recognizes the importance of working toward these healthy relationships, as reflected in one of the guiding principles of the National Child Support Enforcement Strategic Plan for 2005-2009:
We will promote stable, safe, and healthy relationships between parents and children by participating in the larger community’s efforts to strengthen families and encourage healthy marriage and responsible parenthood.
It is my pleasure to help you do just that. The directors of all State and territory child support enforcement offices are being provided with a "beta master" or original copy of the national paternity video, both English and Spanish versions, which has been updated to include the positive aspects for children of healthy marriage and to inform those who think they might be interested in learning more that marriage education services are available. Additional information on State-specific laws, policies and procedures for establishing paternity can be added (tagged) at the end of the video. States might also want to include a listing of toll-free phone numbers and/or addresses of child support offices that unwed parents can contact with their questions and requests for assistance on paternity establishment and marriage education.
I encourage State child support offices to mass-produce copies of this video and distribute them to persons and/or organizations (i.e., birthing hospitals, local child support offices, vital records agencies, community-based fatherhood programs, etc.), assisting unwed parents in the voluntary establishment of paternity for their children. I also encourage you to redouble your efforts to establish links in your communities with marriage education counselors and organizations to which you can refer those wishing more information on marriage education.
At the Federal level, this office will be distributing complimentary copies of the video to various national organizations as well as other Federal agencies that share an interest in the establishment of paternity for children born outside of marriage.
Wade F. Horn, Ph.D.
Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
cc: Regional Program Managers
ACF Regional Administrators
Tribal IV-D Directors