There’s a new Muppet in town and her name is Karli!
Sesame Street introduced the character — a young Muppet in foster care — on Monday as part of a new initiative that offers support to children, foster parents and providers who serve foster families.
In a video titled “You Belong” viewers meet Karli and her “for-now parents” Dalia and Clem when Elmo visits their home for dinner.
Karli grows emotional in the clip when talking about place settings for the table, explaining “I don’t have a place.”
When Elmo asks why she’s so sad, Clem says, “She’s having a hard time Elmo, but we’re here for her. We’re her for-now-parents.”
Dalia later tells Elmo, “Sometimes even mommies and daddies need some help taking care of their children. Karli’s mommy has been having a hard time, so we are her foster parents or her for-now-parents.”
“We will keep her safe until her mommy can take care of her again.”
Elmo then asks when Karli’s mother will be back and Dalia says, “We don’t know for sure when that will be, but what we do know is that Karli belongs here for now. We want her here with us.”
Dalia then directly tells Karli, “You have a place at our table,” before sweetly serenading her with a song that boasts lyrics “There is a place for you here/You belong.”
“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,” Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street announced on their website, describing the mission of initiative: Sesame Street in Communities program.
“The number of children in foster care in the US has grown for five consecutive years. In 2017, nearly 443,000 children spent time in foster care — 6 out of every 1,000 children in the US,” Sesame Workshop explained.
Also included in the Sesame Street in Communities program are resources for caregivers that help tackle tough issues like family homelessness and “traumatic experiences” that come along with the foster journey.
Foster families can read The Feeling Basket storybook, which is equipped with actives to “help children gain perspective on emotions,” or participate in an Artmaker activity to help kids express themselves through drawing.
“Fostering a child takes patience, resilience, and sacrifice, and we know that caring adults hold the power to bugger the effects of traumatic experiences on young children,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop said.
May is National Foster Care Month in the U.S.
n April, Sesame Workshop introduced another character named Julia, an autistic Muppet in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
“At Sesame Workshop, we know that all children want the same things: to feel safe, happy, and loved. And all children have something to contribute—unique perspectives and talents that help make the world a richer and more interesting place,” Sesame Workshop said at the time.
Since her debut, Julia’s role has impacted a number of viewers. Sesame Workshop shared that one mother used a storybook about Julia to explain to her daughter that she is also autistic and her daughter responded with “So I’m amazing too, right?”
Written by Robyn Merrett