Krajewski announces birth certificate application changes for minors with DOH

HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – State Rep. Rick Krajewski, D-Phila., today announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health will administratively introduce changes to the birth certificate process, as proposed in legislation he has introduced that would allow disadvantaged minors to access their birth certificates.

“Disadvantaged Black youth are at highest risk of being victims of gun violence in our city,” Krajewski said. “I heard their stories of how the inability to access their birth certificates were holding them back from seeking opportunities to improve their lives, and I knew I needed to act. We introduced House Bill 1475 to remove one of many barriers preventing them from being able to better their lives, and I am grateful for the Department of Health’s partnership on this critical issue.”

“This regulatory change is a huge win for my clients who are in foster care or transitioning out,” said Saumya Ayyagari, public health nurse home visitor for Philadelphia Nurse-Family Partnership. “Now they can claim their identity and take charge of their financial, educational and career goals.”

“This is a transformational change that impacts young people in our state in a positive way,” said Kendra Van de Water, co-founder and executive director for YEAH Philly. “Not only can working-age youth now have the autonomy and access to get their own birth certificates, but now we’ve helped make real changes for young people in the legal system and foster care system who are often ignored and never get the vital documents they need to move forward in their lives.”

“This is a big step forward for kids like me to be able to work toward getting an independent life,” said Presley Barner of YEAH Philly.

Earlier this month, the PA Department of Health updated the birth certificate request process to lower the age of eligible applicants from 18 to 16 for all Pennsylvanians. The lower age will make it easier for 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain their birth certificate, which is necessary to apply for a state ID, a job or college admission.  

In addition, a new fee waiver option was implemented this month to allow individuals 16 to 24 who are, or have been, involved in foster care or juvenile justice to access their birth certificate without the $20 fee. A separate fee waiver application has been created for individuals experiencing homelessness. 

Youth Empowerment Advancement Hangout, or YEAH Philly, has been working in partnership with Krajewski to enact these changes. According to YEAH Philly, Philadelphia has thousands of children who cannot get their own birth certificates. This creates a barrier between them and employment. Having access to vital documents is a crucial step to helping youth successfully transition into adulthood. Without these vital documents, they continue to be disconnected from support in their communities and schools, fair housing, and employment opportunities.

Krajewski, Dr. Denise Johnson, acting secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General, and other state officials attended a news conference to officially announce these changes and next steps today in the Main Capitol Rotunda.  

More information is available by contacting Krajewski’s office at 215-724-222.