Worried that kid really doesn’t look like you? Quick, it’s time to head south – way south. The State of Mississippi will be offering free paternity tests to fathers (or suspected baby daddies anyway) on certain days throughout the month of September.
Why now? Turns out it’s all about the dough.
A representative for the state’s Division of Child Support Enforcement told the Clarion Ledger that a free paternity test might be the only way to determine once and for all who is responsible for child support in a whole host of cases. And that means the department can close the cases – and get federal monies for doing so.
In the state whose unwed mother rate tops the entire nation, the free tests could be a big expenditure for the state. But it’s a big windfall for the men and women.
Depending on the type of test and the area where you live, the American Pregnancy Association estimates a test to prove paternity could cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000. Considering the state also has one of the worst poverty rates in the country (a 2007 study at Jackson State University noted the poverty rate is worse than many third world countries), it’s safe to say a fair amount of those unwed parents can’t afford those prices. In that vein, the state is also covering women’s legal bills to apply for child support.
So why is this a state issue?
It’s not just the federal money kicked back to Mississippi. It’s tying the child to a second parent – which enables the state to require child support – and can potentially reduce the state’s burden of caring for that child.