When Abby Stanek was growing up in Harcourt, Iowa, she dreamed of being a teacher, a lawyer, or a shoe salesperson. Although she is none of the above, she is using her knowledge of Iowa law to educate hospitals and birthing centers about the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program and promoting its benefits to unmarried parents. In May 2016, Abby joined the CWRTP staff as the Outreach Coordinator for the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program and has embraced her new role with enthusiasm. “In the past, I performed outreach efforts for youth in bioenergy and agriculture and learned how to promote programs and events,” she says. That experience will come in handy as she reaches out to community organizations across the state.
As required by state and federal mandates, every hospital and birthing center that delivers babies is required to provide information to unmarried parents about the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit process. To do this effectively, hospital staff, including nurses, social workers, and notary publics, need to be educated about how the Paternity Affidavit process works. That’s where Abby steps in as outreach coordinator. She serves as a resource for birthing hospitals and communities wanting more information about the process and its benefits.
“Increasing awareness will be a challenge,” Abby admits. “Not a lot of hospitals or organizations are aware of the paternity affidavit training program.” In an effort to generate publicity, Abby intends to publish a bi-monthly newsletter that will be sent to every hospital and birthing center in Iowa, as well as other community organizations and program stakeholders. During the other months, she plans on hosting Webinars on various topics identified by hospitals. “I also hope to build a relationship with the Bureau of Vital Records to identify and correct mistakes being made in the process and increasing the number of children with legally identified fathers,” she states. In an effort to achieve these goals, Abby has been researching paternity affidavit initiatives in other states, conducting a literature review on the benefits of establishing paternity, and developing marketing materials for the program. She anticipates the most rewarding part of the job will be making a difference in children’s lives and educating parents on the financial, social, and psychological benefits of establishing paternity.
As expected, the position involves a great deal of travel, which Abby looks forward to. She notes, “A year from now, I hope to have visited half of the birthing hospitals in Iowa.” She’s also aware of how the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program fits in with the broader world of child support. “Establishing paternity is the first—and vital—step in allowing for child support, visitation rights, and so on,” she explains.
Abby received her B.S. in business marketing from ISU in May 2015 and is currently working on her M.S. in agricultural education with an anticipated graduation date of 2017. She and her husband, Will, live in Gowrie. CWRTP welcomes Abby aboard!