Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: September 18, 2012
NEW CASTLE (Sept. 18, 2012) - For clients who need paternity established, Delaware's Division of Child Support Enforcement is offering free DNA testing weekdays through Sept. 28 at its offices statewide. Testing times are 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 1-3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Office locations:
In Delaware, if a child's parents were not married or in a civil union when the child was born, the law does not recognize the other parent unless paternity/parentage is legally established. Establishing paternity/parentage will give a child the same rights and benefits as children born to married parents. Parents who do not want to do DNA testing can agree to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. In conjunction with the courts, hospitals, birthing centers and health professionals, the Division of Child Support Enforcement had established paternity, as of June 30, for 49,498 children in the total active caseload who were born out of wedlock.
Gov. Jack Markell has proclaimed September as Child Support Month. "When the relationship between a child's parents end, it does not mean that either parent's responsibility to the child ends," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the division. "Through these challenging economic times, the Division of Child Support Enforcement clearly is impacting Delaware families' lives for the better."
In fiscal year 2012, the division collected more than $96 million in child support, a 17.4 percent increase from the total collected in fiscal year 2002.
"Child support is not just about the money," said Charles Hayward, director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement. "Both parents play an important role in the growth and development of children. For children whose parents were not married to each other when the child was born, the law does not recognize the father until paternity has been established. Besides the emotional benefits of establishing paternity, both parents' names then will appear on the birth certificate. Paternity means children can receive medical or life insurance from either parent, and critical family medical history is developed. Establishing paternity also provides the legal basis for the father to obtain custody/visitation rights, and allows for financial support, including child support, inheritance, military allowances, Social Security and veteran benefits. DNA, or genetic testing, is easy and requires only a simple swab of the cheek to obtain the DNA sample. Men need to establish paternity. Their children deserve it."
For questions or further assistance, contact the division's customer service for each county from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday:
For more information about child support enforcement, go to www.dhss.delaware.gov/dcse , or contact Janice Taylor, Community Relations Officer, at (302) 395-6525.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.