LOS ANGELES - Sesame Workshop, which is the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced a new initiative to offer support for children in foster care, along with new characters on the show that depict a foster family.
The initiative features three new characters: Karli, who is a young Sesame Street Muppet in foster care, as well as her "for-now" parents Dalia and Clem, according to a Sesame Workshop press release. The initiative also aims to support foster parents and providers who serve foster families.
"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.
Free, bilingual resources released Monday include several "simple, approachable tools to help reassure children and help them feel safer."
The resources include new videos featuring Karli, her "for-now" parents and Sesame Street friends.
In the "On Your Team" video, Elmo's dad chats with his old friends Dalia and Clem, who are new foster parents to a little girl named Karli, the release said.
The "You Belong" video follows Karli as she worries that she doesn't have a "place at the table" at a pizza party with Elmo in her new foster home.
In the "A Heart Can Grow" video, Karli shares with Elmo an art project that demonstrates that while she may feel like her heart is breaking, it can get bigger at the same time when more love is added, the release said.
The resources also include "The Feeling Basket" storybook about "finding a place" for big feelings, with accompanying activities that help children gain perspective on emotions and learn to label and talk about them, according to the release.
Digital interactives include an art activity to help children express feelings through drawing and a "Slow it Down" calming activity for children overwhelmed by big feelings, the release said.
"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 said. "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."
The number of children in foster care in the U.S. has grown for five consecutive years, according to the release. In 2017, nearly 443,000 children spent time in foster care--six out of every 1,000 children in the U.S., the release said.
Sesame Workshop's initiative is part of the Sesame Street in Communities program, which provides free, easy-to-use resources for community providers and caregivers on a range of topics, including tough issues like family homelessness and traumatic experiences, according to the release.