Change is the Only Constant – the AB 2684 Parentage Program

By: The OCM Team

A major task in process at California Child Support Services (CA DCSS) is fulfilling the requirements of Assembly Bill (AB) 2684 by the legislative deadline. AB 2684 directs the expansion of legal parental responsibility beyond an unmarried mother and biological father (paternity), to include married or unmarried same-sex female parents and parents who have children using assisted reproductive technology, except those who utilize surrogacy. The bill also made updates to the requirements for genetic testing and to the processes of establishing and challenging legal parentage.

The CA DCSS team is currently on track to implement the required changes by January 1, 2020. Phase I of the project includes a name change from the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) to the Parentage Opportunity Program (POP), as well as updates to differentiate 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 assisted reproduction (excluding surrogacy). Training on all these changes has begun for local agency caseworkers, attorneys, and authorized witnessing agencies, and will continue through the remainder of the year. By the end of December, 77 trainings will have been delivered to 50 counties in California including trainings to approximately 580 “authorized persons” who witness the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage. This training, entitled “Training for POP Coordinators,” has been recorded and is available on Child Support University (CSU).

Planned for completion next year is Phase II of the project, which includes changes to the Child Support Enforcement System detail pages and forms and updates to the online child support application, website(s), outreach materials, and publications. Edits will include more inclusive language such as “parentage” instead of “paternity”; “birth parent” and “other parent,” instead of “mother” and “father”; and the addition of gender neutral pronouns. A Child Support Services Informational (CSSI) letter, Genetic Testing to Determine Parentage, as well as a Child Support Services Policy letter, Gender and Names Changes, were issued in July. An additional CSSI, Establishing and Challenging Parentage, will also be issued.

Two training sessions on the policy changes related to AB 2684 were held the first week of October. One training was recorded and will be made available on CSU in a few weeks. Additional training for local agency directors, caseworkers, attorneys, and others will be delivered via CSE Release Trainings through the remainder of the year and in 2020. An attorney training will be held November 13-14, 2019 at CA DCSS headquarters in Rancho Cordova, as well as a second session at a location not yet determined in Southern California on November 19-20, 2019. If you have questions, contact the Organizational Change Management Team at OCM@dcss.ca.gov.