“Sesame Street” is introducing a new Muppet to its roster of characters, and it’s part of a special initiative to offer support to foster children and foster parents.
A release issued by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization that produces the long-running children’s series, announces the arrival of Karli, a young Muppet in foster care, along with her “for-now” parents, Dalia and Clem.
“Children in foster care often experience many transitions — from their separation from birth parents, to their placement in foster care, to many moves — and the new resources are designed to help children in crisis cope along the way,” explains Sesame Workshop.
In a video clip introducing Karli to viewers, beloved Muppet Elmo joins the family for a pizza party, with Karli showing off all the customized placemats she’s made for Elmo and her foster parents. However, she becomes distressed when she can’t find her placemat, becoming saddened that she has “no place.”
Karli’s foster mother tells Elmo that his friend is “having a hard time” being without her mother, and that she and Clem will “keep her safe until her mommy can take care of her again.”
Elmo asks when that will be; Dalia isn’t sure, but tells him that “what we do know is that Karlie belongs here now. We want her here with us.”
As the release points out, statistics tell the story. “The number of children in foster care in the US has grown for five consecutive years,” Sesame Workshop notes. “In 2017, nearly 443,000 children spent time in foster care — 6 out of every 1,000 children in the US. Every 47 seconds a child is abused or neglected, and children under age 6 made up nearly half of all child maltreatment cases in 2015. Over 40 per cent of all children in foster care in 2016 were under age 6.”
In response to this growing need for resources aimed at children in foster care, Sesame Workshop partnered with national experts on foster care to develop material that includes “proven strategies to bolster relationships between caring adults and children and mitigate the effects of traumatic experiences.”
“Fostering a child takes patience, resilience, and sacrifice, and we know that caring adults hold the power to buffer the effects of traumatic experiences on young children,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop. “We want foster parents and providers to hear that what they do matters — they have the enormous job of building and rebuilding family structures and children’s sense of safety. By giving the adults in children’s lives the tools they need — with help from the Sesame Street Muppets — we can help both grownups and children feel seen and heard and give them a sense of hope for the future.”
In addition to appearing on the show, Karli will be also featured in new videos, interactive activities for families and free storybooks available online.