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Fowler Announces Change in Delayed Birth Certificate Policy

October 06
13:23 2014

Lena Fowler Birth CertificatesNative Americans throughout Arizona can now obtain a delayed birth certificate through a streamlined process. This is a major accomplishment for Arizona Navajo elders, who were denied Social Security and Veterans benefits because they were born at home and weren’t issued a hospital birth certificate.  Getting  a birth certificate later – otherwise known as a “delayed birth certificate” – has been be very difficult in Arizona because of its strict regulations.

The long-needed change in the process was sought by Coconino County District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler and county staff, and was recently adopted by the State Department of Health Services.

This is a major victory for the state’s rural tribal elders, many of whom were born at home and the State has no official birth record,” said Supervisor Fowler, whose district includes the Navajo Nation. “By working together, Coconino County, Navajo Nation, our State Legislators and several others were successful in producing a solution to aid our citizens. By altering their procedures, the State Department of Health Services has helped thousands of residents obtain a driver’s license, social security benefits or prove their residency.”

Until recently, it could take years for Native Americans born before 1970 to complete the laborious process to receive a delayed birth certificate from the State. The process required producing four separate forms to verify that a person was born at a specific time and place.

Many Elders Born at Home Had no Official Birth Record

Under the new guidelines, residents born before 1970 at home in rural, remote portions of the County can submit an official tribal enrollment record that has the person’s name, parents name, date of birth and location of birth and a supporting document such as medical record that has the four birth facts. Once verified, an individual will be issued a delayed birth certificate.

The new policy became effective Sept. 26, 2014 and can be found here:

However, the administrative action taken by the State Department of Health Services is only temporary. While the action is a positive move, Supervisor Fowler and county staff will continue to seek a permanent solution through the State Legislature.

Senator Carlyle W. Begay released the following statement on the Substantive Policy Statement (SPS) for Tribal Delayed Birth Certificates for American Indian elders born before 1970:

Without a birth certificate, people risk eligibility for many things – from retirement and disability benefits, to medical care and a social security card,” said Sen. Begay. “With this important administrative order the first step toward correcting this problem has been taken. Next session I will introduce legislation to make this a permanent, statutory change.”

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