It’s National Foster Care Month in the United States and our fave puppet-filled kids show is honoring it in style: Sesame Street has introduced a muppet in foster care — a character who will shine light on the lives of foster families. Her name is Karli.
With close to 450,000 kids and teens in foster care in the U.S. (stats courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau), the Sesame Street Karli character is a powerful initiative to help children understand the world of what the show calls “for-now” parents.
Karli is a bright green muppet with blonde pigtails who is a good friend of Elmo’s. When Elmo joins Karli’s foster family for pizza one night, Karli’s foster mom explains to him that Karli’s own family is “having a hard time.” Karli’s foster mom goes on to say that she will “keep [Karli] safe until her mommy can take care of her again.”
Elmo, like any curious child, wants to know when Karli’s mom will be able to care for Karli again. Karli’s foster mom warmly tells Elmo that, while there’s no definite date for Karli to return to her mom, “what we do know is that Karli belongs here now… We want her here with us.”
It’s a beautiful storyline, showcasing the unique bond and special love that foster families create, often in the face of hardship and abuse. Karli’s storylines cover themes such as belonging as well as how essential it is for kids to feel secure and safe — like in this clip, where she can’t find her “place” at the table:
“You are safe, you are strong, there is a place for you here, you belong,” Karli’s foster mom sings to her, before Karli and her foster dad join in, making her feel much better. Cue tears.
As usual, Sesame Street has struck the perfect chord addressing a very complex issue in a way that children can understand and relate to deeply. The show is celebrating its 50th anniversary — an occasion we celebrate too, every day. How can you not love a show that even took on Game of Thrones and respect?