GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) -- A foster father in Michigan has a special father's day message other area dads.
"They just need a family to take care of them, tell them that they're loved, appreciated, valued and give them a hope and a future," said Elan Smith.
The Smith family, who live in Genesee County, Michigan, are caring for three foster children right now. According to a support group they are working with, there are more than 530 children in foster care right now but less than 250 licensed foster homes, so the need is great.
"I think every family should consider if this is right for them," Smith said.
The father of seven doesn't mince words
"It is a social crisis that needs to be addressed, and we need to look deep and say, 'Is this something we can ignore? Can we continue to ignore lives?'" he asked.
Smith and his wife, Ashley, who had four young kids of their own, decided to become foster parents to three siblings under the age of 10.
Smith described the transition that's taken place in his home since he became a foster parent:
You see their need and their tenderness and you see them as children, and your heart just breaks for them. You learn things that never existed within you," he explained.
While the journey has not been without its own set of challenges, their children are also reaping the benefits of having more siblings to play with:
"I used to have three siblings and it wasn't that fun because we didn't get to do fun stuff," noted their eight-year-old daughter, Nilah. "We didn't have people to talk to now we have a lot."
And mom and dad say the kids are learning important life lessons at an early age.
"Even our own children have felt the brokenness for hurting children now and want to do more," Smith said. "It's incredible."