Jacqueline Elm, a second-year student at Flathead Valley Community College, is dedicated to improving the lives of families who are struggling with the fallout from drug and alcohol addiction and other circumstances that could potentially separate children from their families of origin.
Jacqueline became passionate about this issue when she and her husband assumed the responsibility of raising their infant grandson due to their daughter's drug addiction. Together, she and her husband founded Grandfamilies of Montana, a nonprofit organization that serves grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Jacqueline has testified before the Montana State Legislature numerous times regarding bills aimed at protecting families and children.
Jacqueline is a first-generation college student whose goal is to earn a bachelor's degree in Social Work and ultimately develop a counseling and advocacy program that strengthens extended families and protects children from damaging foster care experiences. On top of her civic contributions, Jacqueline serves as a mentor to other students in the TRIO program, utilizing her excellent listening and communication skills to help others be successful in college.
Seventeen years ago, I became involved with grand parenting. As with most grand families, it was a time of crisis and turmoil within my family. I have traveled a path of great resistance; however, I have learned much while on the journey.
We know that the demands on the system are increasing; however, increasing the power and bureaucracy of the system is not the answer. We need to increase support for loving families that can protect the children, and work through the issues. We need a system that operates within the laws, provides due process protections, fair treatment, and professional services that can truly determine the best interest of the child, and help the family move in that direction.
It is this professional service that I am hoping to bring to the Flathead Valley. I am seeking a degree in Social Work, and my husband and I have founded Grandfamilies of Montana, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy, education, resources and support to families. With these families being the fastest growing segment of our population, it is truly time to find ways to support them.