California Tribes Offer Paternity Establishment in New Locations
The January/ February 2018 Child Support Report originally featured this article written by Janelle Mora, Student Assistant, Office of Communication and Public Affairs, California Division of Child Support Services.
In California, families in 25 tribes can now establish paternity in the same place they apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In November 2017, the Department of Child Support Services’ Paternity Opportunity Program gave the California Tribal TANF Partnership (CTTP) approval to officially assist parents who need to legally establish paternity.
California created the CTTP in 2003 to help Native American families become more self-sufficient. The partnership provides educational training, employment opportunities, and temporary financial assistance. By adding voluntary paternity establishment to the full list of available supportive services, tribal members throughout California can save time and money by making a single trip to one of the 10 currently approved CTTP locations.
In 2014, Paternity Opportunity Program officials ramped up outreach and training efforts to increase awareness of the program and to train new agencies on the rights and responsibilities associated with paternity establishment. They provided training and resources to authorized witnessing agencies that help families complete Declaration of Paternity forms. In July and October 2017, program manager Kyla Kuryllo conducted training sessions for CTTP representatives.
Program officials are excited about approving their first CTTP locations and are eager to build more collaborative partnerships. In addition to Tribal TANF, the program works with other authorized witnessing agencies and individuals statewide, such as hospitals, county registrar offices, courts, people with notary public certifications, and local social services and child support agencies.
The Paternity Opportunity Program has helped over 3.1 million parents since 1995. Legally established paternity allows children access to benefits such as health insurance, Social Security, and inheritance rights. It can also give them more complete knowledge of their family medical history. "I’m thrilled with the progress and positive impact [the program] continues to make in the lives of families throughout California," says Kuryllo. "The recent addition of the CTTP locations as authorized witnessing agencies is the beginning of a wonderful partnership between DCSS and the CTTP."