Sesame Street has long been a staple of quality children's programming. The show has introduced us to some of the most loveable, well-known children's characters of all time like Big Bird, Cookie Monster and of course, Elmo. Over the years Sesame Street has endeavored to be as inclusive as possible by featuring a variety of puppets children can relate to and even introducing a puppet with who has Autism last year. Now the show has introduced a new character named Karli who is in foster care in hopes of exposing their audience to the fact that there are all kinds of families.
Meet Karli, a young Muppet in foster care. We have created an initiative to support foster families and the providers they work with. Explore the new page for strategies to help children in crisis grow and thrive: https://t.co/PTnn8a6TYU #SesameCommunity pic.twitter.com/RqVIWaaXCc— Sesame Street in Communities (@SesameCommunity) May 20, 2019
The introduction of Karli not only helps children in similar situations see a representative of themselves on television but it's also a part of the "Sesame Street in Communities" program, which aims to provide parents and caregivers with free resources that cover a range of topics from nutrition to how to handle divorce.
Karli is a sweet muppet who lives with her "for now" parents, Dalia and Clem because although her mom loves her, they can't be together. In the various segments featuring Karli, the muppet explains what a foster situation is and how it works while being representative of the thousands of children in the United States who are also in foster care.
Even when hearts feel like they’re breaking, they can still grow bigger and bigger with more love and care. Karli, a young Muppet in foster care, and her friend @Elmo look at what fills up their hearts in this new video on @SesameCommunity. #SesameCommunity pic.twitter.com/GS4DFtd6F6— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) May 20, 2019
In one video Dalia explains to Elmo that she and Clem are taking care of Karli because her mother is "having a hard time." She tells Elmo they will keep Karli safe until her mom is able to take care of her again, prompting Elmo to ask when that will be? Dalia doesn't know the answer but assures Elmo that "Karli belongs here now. We want her here with us."
The message is an important one given that there are currently more than 440,000 children and youth in foster care according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Children's Bureau. May is also National Foster Care Month and Sesame Street is doing what it can to educate the public about what foster care is and why it's so important.
"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,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop said in a press release. “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."
Betancourt added that the addition of Karli to the Sesame Street cast helps both parents and children "feel seen and heard" by seeing their own story on television.