RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- An area hospital has been named the best in Virginia when it comes to establishing paternity.

The Virginia Department of Social Services and the Virginia Paternity Establishment Program announced the top 10 hospitals recognized for performance in paternity establishment rates in 2022 on Tuesday.

According to a release, hospitals across the Commonwealth set a high standard by recording paternity establishment rates greater than the average 77 percent in Virginia. They also exceeded the projected state-mandated goal of more than 80 percent for the year.

VPEP is a program that gives unmarried parents the chance to establish paternity of a newborn by voluntarily acknowledging fatherhood during their hospital stay.

It also supports paternity establishment should unmarried parents decide later that they want to add the father to the birth certificate.

Across Virginia, 53 birthing hospitals serve parents by promoting paternity establishment through this program. 

“The benefits of establishing paternity are vast and vary from increasing a child’s self-esteem to establishing a more complete health history,” said Yesenia Peiker, VPEP project manager. “It is imperative that we continually advocate for paternity establishment on behalf of the children. A child who has an established bond with his or her father has greater access to emotional support and social and economic opportunities.”

For 2022, the hospital with the highest paternity establishment rate is Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Albemarle County.

Sentara MJH had a rate of 84.3 percent for the year.

The other hospitals on the top 10 list include Inova Fair Oaks, Sentara RMH, Inova Loudoun, Winchester Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital, Johnston Willis, Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, Ballad Health Johnston Memorial, and Stone Springs Hospital.

Virginia’s 77 percent average establishment rate is up one percent from 2021, which VDSS says is another achievement for the Commonwealth.

For more information about the program, click here.