From Paternity to Parentage – AB 2684 Program Changes

By: The OCM Team

Earlier this spring, a California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) Sprint team came together to brainstorm the requirements for implementing Assembly Bill (AB) 2684. AB 2684, introduced in the 2018 legislative session, was authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom and supported by the LGBTQ+ community. The legislation expands the existing process of paternity establishment beyond an unmarried mother and biological father to include married or unmarried same-sex female parents and parents who have children using assisted reproductive technology, with the exception of those who utilize surrogacy.

As a result, upcoming CA DCSS program changes will include a name change: the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) will become the Parentage Opportunity Program (preserving the acronym!), and procedures and requirements will be modified to distinguish between paternity and parentage for federal reporting and auditing purposes. The POP Voluntary Declaration of Parentage form will now include same-sex female parents and parents who conceive through non-surrogate assisted reproduction. The bill also made significant revisions to the requirements for genetic testing and establishing and challenging parentage. All updates must be made by January 1, 2020 to comply with both federal and state laws. POP training has begun for county and regional child support case workers, attorneys, and authorized witnessing agencies, and will continue through the remainder of the year.

Also being implemented next year are AB 2684-related changes to the California online application for support and multiple forms, publications, and the CA DCSS website. The goal is to incorporate more inclusive language: “parentage” instead of “paternity”; “birth parent” instead of “mother,” “other parent” instead of “father,” and to change pronouns to make them gender neutral. A Child Support Services Informational letter on genetic testing was issued in July, as well as a Policy letter on changing a participant’s gender. Another informational letter will be issued soon related to establishing and challenging parentage. Statewide training on these topics will be offered in the fall and in 2020 for county and regional directors, caseworkers, attorneys, and others.

Should you have questions, please contact the Organizational Change Management team at OCM@dcss.ca.gov.