‘Sesame Street’ has a new character who’s in foster care

Sesame Street has created another lovable, colorful young muppet, and she’s a foster kid! Karli, a bright green puppet with yellow streaked ponytails and a purple nose, debuted on May 20. She’s part of the Sesame Street in Communities effort to help kids deal with hard topics like the foster system.

The videos on Karli and her family are specially-created materials by Sesame Workshop. The Atlantic reports that these online resources will not be featured on the television show. Instead, they are intended to be used by parents, caretakers, social workers, therapists and others who work with affected children.

Karli and her foster parents, Clem and Dalia, appear in several videos where they discuss being a foster family and the challenges that come with it. All the interactions are designed to be at kid-level, of course, and the dialogue was carefully researched and chosen.

Clem and Dalia, for instance, are described as Karli’s “for-now” parents, and in the video below from the Sesame Street in Communities YouTube account, they talk about always being there for Karli.

Even the character’s names have meaning. Karli comes from the German word for “strength.” Dalia means “strong branch” and “Clem” means “mild” or “merciful.”

Sesame Workshop has also created a site filled with online resources for foster kids and their foster parents. And both the website and Karli’s launch are well-timed for National Foster Care Month in May. The Sesame Street in Communities site points out that there are around 440,000 U.S. children in foster care.

In the online-only video below, posted to the YouTube account, Elmo comes over to eat pizza with Karli, Clem and Dalia.

“Sometimes even mommies and daddies need some help taking care of their children,” Dalia says in the video, explaining to Elmo what a “for-now” parent is. “Karli’s mommy’s been having a hard time so we are her foster parents or her ‘for-now’ parents. We will keep her safe until Karli’s mommy can take care of her again.”

In another sweet scene between Elmo and Karli from the YouTube account, Karli uses the metaphor of a heart growing bigger to explain her current living situation.

With these online tools, Sesame Workshop hopes to provide inclusive language that kids and adults alike can use to understand their situation and communicate about their feelings.

“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,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of social impact at Sesame Workshop, in a statement.

Among the other tough topics for kids tackled by the cute and kid-friendly muppets from Sesame Street in Communities are substance abuse, homelessness and incarceration.

We can’t wait to see more from Karli and her foster parents, Dalia and Clem!