The Arkansas Department of Health announced Friday that local health units in all 75 Arkansas counties should be able to process “same-day, in-person requests for birth certificates and death certificates in most cases” by the end of the year.

In August, John Lyon reported for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network on the state’s massive backlog of birth certificate processing requests submitted online. Marisha DiCarlo, a spokesperson for ADH, told Lyon at the time that the agency was 11,000 requests behind in regards to online orders, with an estimated processing time of 75-90 days — far slower than any other state. The average estimated processing time nationwide was 9 or 10 days, Lyon wrote. DiCarlo indicated at the time that the agency processed in-person requests only at its Little Rock office but said ADH was working on making the service available at local health units.

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Seven months later, the agency appears to have made significant progress on the problem of access. ADH said Friday that it now offers in-person services at health units in Pulaski-Central, Washington, Benton, Jefferson, Sebastian, Crawford, Craighead, Crittenden, Hempstead, Grant, Union, St. Francis, Boone, Drew, and Bradley counties.

UPDATE: I asked ADH this morning about the status of the online request backlog. Spokesperson Meg Mirivel responded by email to say it’s been cleared:

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Currently, ADH Vital Records does not have a backlog of online (third-party vendors) or mail-in orders. The turnaround time is within 48 hours after receipt of the order by the Vital Records mail receipt system when the order form is complete and the order contains the appropriate documentation and fees. This turnaround time of within 48 hours after receipt of the completed order and appropriate documentation also applies to orders sent through online third-party vendors.

The website for VitalChek, the private company that partners with most states to handle birth certificate requests now gives the estimated processing time for Arkansas as 5-7 days — on par with neighboring states.

From the ADH press release earlier:

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Records requests will still be processed at the central ADH office in Little Rock. Online and mail-in requests will also still be available. Any requests to change or correct information on existing birth or death certificates must still be handled in the Little Rock office located at 4815 W. Markham St.

“Arkansans need access to their vital records for a variety of reasons, some of which can be time-sensitive,” said Don Adams, ADH Center Director for Local Public Health. “We are pleased to be able to offer same-day service for these records requests in all of our counties in the near future.”

For more information about ordering vital records, please visit: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/program/certificates-and-records.

For more information about local health unit locations and services, please visit:
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/health-units.