Mrs Tennessee International 2017, Shana Smith, aims to spread news of the need for foster families far and wide. Her grandmother was adopted from a newspaper ad in Wisconsin, and her mom and dad were foster parents. She was raised to see children in the foster care system and children who are adopted as “chosen,” and that has stuck with her into adulthood.

When she turned 25, she took in her first foster child. A year later she married a long-time friend and together they adopted that child. The couple then fostered and adopted another child, and they continue to provide a home for some of the other children in the system.

Smith says that she gets calls almost weekly about more children needing homes. She said the threat of them sleeping on office floors otherwise is all too real. She is excited to be able to use her title to draw attention to the shortage of resources for these children.

There are 23,000 kids aging out of foster care each year with no family. She fears the future of the country if the kids continue to grow up with no love or stability. In most cases, all the children want is someone to show up to a football game or a dance recital. They need the support and love that comes with being in a stable home and environment.

Smith emphasized that being a foster parent isn’t the only way you can help. You can provide respite care for children while their foster parents are at work. You can donate items that your family no longer needs. You can also share knowledge about how to care for children with special needs. Foster parents are just doing the best they can with what they are given, and they need your support.

Click here to watch her interview.