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Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: June 7, 2016
WILMINGTON (June 7, 2016) - The Department of Health and Social Services and the City of Wilmington today announced the opening of a Wilmington satellite vital statistics office at DHSS' Northeast State Service Center to provide birth certificates for families who are seeking to enroll children in kindergarten. Many Wilmington families said it was a transportation challenge for them to get to the New Castle County Office of Vital Statistics in Newark or they lacked computer access to order a birth certificate online.
DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf and Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay joined Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams, state Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden and others in cutting the ribbon to open the new office.
"One of the most important things we can do as government leaders is to meet communities where they are," Secretary Landgraf said. "This satellite vital statistics office is an example of listening to the community and reducing the barriers for Wilmington families who needed birth certificates for children to enter kindergarten. I thank the City of Wilmington and Mayor Williams for partnering with us to open this pilot office at the Northeast State Service Center."
Under the direction of Mayor Williams, Dr. Jaqueline Jenkins, the City's Chief Strategy Advisor for Education, spearheaded this important pilot project. As a result, residents of Wilmington will no longer have to travel outside the city to obtain birth certificates for children enrolling in kindergarten. For the past year, the City of Wilmington worked in partnership with a variety of human service and education organizations and agencies in regards to school readiness and early childhood education. The common theme in discussions addressing school readiness, registration and re-entry has been the limited access Wilmington families have to the Office of Vital Statistics for birth certificates. Because the New Castle County Vital Statistics Office is located in Newark, Wilmington residents with limited transportation and no access to a computer found it difficult to obtain critical documents like a birth certificate, a requirement for school registrations.
"Going to kindergarten is a big step for children and we must do what we can to assist parents or caregivers as they prepare for this important transition," said Mayor Williams. "I am extremely pleased that, immediately upon being approached, Delaware Health and Social Services and the Department of Education have been open and willing partners in bringing this satellite of Vital Statistics back within the city limits to offer birth certificates."
Although experts advise that the school-readiness process should begin a year in advance, typically, parents do not prepare for their child's transition to kindergarten until a month or two before the school year is scheduled to begin. Families of new school registrants must produce original birth certificates, among other important documentation, to enroll children on time for the fall. The pilot program in Wilmington could help parents to obtain a birth certificate for children to begin kindergarten, primary education and summer programs.
The Wilmington office at the Northeast State Service Center (1624 Jessup St.) will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 7 through Oct. 27, 2016, as a pilot program. The office will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch. Accepted forms of payment: credit/debit card, check, or money order for $25, payable to the Office of Vital Statistics. And, while the focus of the pilot is to make the transition to kindergarten easier for families of young children, everyone seeking a birth certificate will be served. For further information or to obtain vital statistics documents online, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/ss/vitalstats.html.
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.