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I think I’m pregnant; is there a way to privately find out?

Yes. A Title X funded clinic, like Planned Parenthood, can provided you with a pregnancy test at no cost. The results are confidential and cannot be disclosed to anyone else without your consent, even if you are a minor.

Is access to birth control a right?

Yes. For young women, birth control is a right that you have access to and is free of charge for you. This includes all types of birth control from pills to IUDs to emergency contraception (often called “plan B”). As a young man, there is no legal requirement for insurance companies to cover condoms or vasectomies. This procedure would need to be an approved service under your insurance and you will need to purchase condoms.

As a minor, can I get an abortion without my parent’s permission?

No. Ohio’s law requires parental consent in order for a minor to get an abortion. If you’re unable to get your parent or guardian’s consent, you can go to court and ask for something called a judicial bypass. You will have a hearing within 5 days and the court will assign you an attorney 24 hours before the hearing. There are women’s health centers around the state that can help with this process.

I want to have my child but can’t take care of them; is adoption an option?

Yes. In Ohio, you can voluntarily place your child in the custody of your county child welfare agency, who will find an adoptive family for your baby, or you can work with an adoption agency to find an adoptive family. When you work with an adoption agency, the possibility to be involved, meet the adoptive parents and remain in contact with your baby exist. During a county agency adoption, the entire process is confidential. One final note, open adoption agreements in Ohio are not legally enforceable. These agreements rely on the compliance of both parties.

I think I may be a father, but I’m not in contact with the mother anymore. How can I protect my rights as a parent?

You should register with the Ohio Putative Father Registry. You can register either before your child is born or within 15 days of their birth. You will want to try and have as much information as possible about the mother. Registering is free and you will need to register each time you think that you may have fathered a child, even if it is with the same person. Also, it is always your responsibility to keep your address updated in the registry.

I’m not sure that I’m the father of a child. What are my options?

You will need to establish paternity. Your county child support enforcement agency CSEA can assist in establishing paternity by providing a DNA test. The cost of the test is typically covered by the CSEA.

I had a baby with my ex; do I have any rights to the baby?

Yes, you do have the right to be a parent to your child. Because parenting time is local county courts matter, you will need to go to your local courts to set up what is called a “parenting time schedule” for you and your child’s parent. This parenting time schedule will also address other rights, such as access to school and medical records, tax information and many other details regarding shared parenthood.

I’m under 18 and I have a child; who is responsible for decisions made about my child?

Although you are a minor, you are responsible for all decisions regarding your child. You have the right to make medical decisions, choose which daycare provider to use, decide what school your child will go to and ensure the safety and well-being of your child.

I have a child, can I be denied public assistance?

Yes, you can. Because public assistance programs are need-based, meaning that you must meet certain income eligibility requirements, you can be denied if you do not meet the income requirements. It is important you provide all requested documentation to your county department of job and family services after the birth of your child so that your eligibility can be properly determined.

Now that I’m a parent, do I have to quit school?

No. You or your parent/guardian will want to contact the school as soon as possible to make a plan for when you give birth and when you return to school. If you would like to transition to an alternative education setting, this can also be incorporated into your plan. Your right to an education does not leave you.

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My kid doesn’t like being in the car seat, so do I have to use it?

Yes. Ohio law requires that all children who are 4 years old or 40 pounds to be a car seat. Kids ages 4-8 or up to 80 pounds are required to be in a booster seat when in a car. All youth, ages 8-15, must wear a seatbelt when in a car.

I’m just running a quick errand, so leaving my baby home alone is okay—right?

No. As a parent, you have the responsibility to ensure that your child is properly supervised at all times. Anything could happening these few moments and leaving a child unattended is illegal. It is never okay to leave your child unattended.

I want to make sure that I’m practicing safe sleeping habits with my baby, but how can I be sure of what they are?

The ABCs of safe sleeping are: A. = Alone B. = On their Back C. = In a Crib Safe sleeping habits are important when it comes to making efforts at reducing infant death. To be safe, always make sure that you are putting your baby is alone, lying on their back in their crib when sleeping. If you think that you may fall asleep when feeding them, please put them in the crib/bassinette and do not prop them up with a bottle.

Do I have to get shots for my baby?

While getting your baby’s shots (also known as immunizations or vaccinations) is encouraged and recommended, you do have the right to refuse. You can refuse for any reason, from personal to religious grounds. You will want to have a thorough discussion with your child’s doctor about all of the risks and benefits of vaccinations.

I think that I need to find a daycare, so can I just pick anyone?

Finding a daycare provider is a responsibility that you will have to take charge of. You will want to locate a provider that is open during the hours you need, find out if they provide transportation, meals, diapers, etc. you will also want to understand what type of education services they offer to your child while you are away. A visit to the daycare center will allow you to observe the teacher and student observations in the environment.

Are there any programs to help me meet the nutritional needs of my child?

Yes. There is the Women Infants & Children (WIC) Program. WIC provides milk, eggs, cheese, vegetables and whole grain foods to participants in their programs. No. You have the right to refuse shots (also known as immunizations or vaccinations). While getting vaccinated is encouraged to prevent disease, you can refuse. Your refusal can be for any reason, from personal preference to religious reasons.

How do I keep up with all of the appointments that my baby has?

As a parent, you will need to develop a system to help you keep track of appointments. Your baby is depending on you and this responsibility can become overwhelming if it is not managed well. Options to consider include scheduling 2-3 appointments on the same day, using your phone’s calendar & reminder settings or using Google calendar.

If my baby isn’t growing on target, what can I do?

You will want to reach out to your child’s doctor or clinic and let them know about your concern. You can also ask about being linked with a visiting nurse via Help Me Grow, or if you are enrolled in CareSource, Molina, Buckeye Health Plan, United Health Care or Paramount Advantage, you may be eligible for care management services to help track and monitor health goals.

What can I do if I’m struggling to get to medical appointments?

Most insurance providers offer some type of non-emergency transportation (NET) as a benefit. You should contact your insurance provider to see if this service is offered. Be sure that the trips are counted for your child and not for you, so that you do not use all of your allowable trips on your baby. If NET is not offered by your insurance, you can check with your local transportation authority to see about free or reduced price passes or taxi service. Your insurance provider may need to provide you with documentation, so be sure to ask for necessary contact persons and fax numbers that this information will need to be sent to.

If I’m struggling as a parent, what are my options?

Being a parent is rewarding, but can be overwhelming at times. If you find yourself in need of a break or feeling stressed out, call on someone who you trust to talk things out with, come and hang, or perhaps watch the baby while you go for a walk or workout. If you have no one to call on, turn on some music or read to your baby. The most important thing is to find an outlet. Reach out to someone and connect. Find a support group that you identify with in your community and connect with them so that you can establish a supportive network who you can call on when you are stressed.