'Sesame Street' Welcomes a Foster Child Character

Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on May 22, 2019
2 min read

May 22, 2019 -- There’s a new Muppet in town on Sesame Street. Her name is Karli, and she’s a little girl who lives with a foster family.

“My mom can’t be with me right now, even though she loves me very much,” Karli tells Elmo in a scene called “A Heart Can Grow.”

Karli and her Muppet foster parents, Dalia and Clem, are making their debut in online segments posted on YouTube. In another scene titled “You Belong,” Karli gets upset as she adjusts to life in her new home with them. But her “for-now” parents cheer her up by singing “there is a place for you here.”

“The scenes I’ve seen of Karli, the new foster child on Sesame Street, are inspiring and practical for all children and their parents,” says Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, senior medical director at WebMD. “Parenting can be difficult, and this new storyline shares tools to help children recognize and express their feelings, find comfort and stability with their foster families, and begin to cope with their traumatic experiences.”

The scenes with Karli, Dalia, and Clem are part of an educational program about foster care from Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind Sesame Street.

“By giving the adults in children’s lives the tools they need -- with help from the Sesame Street Muppets -- we can help both grown-ups and children feel seen and heard and give them a sense of hope for the future,” says Jeanette Betancourt, EdD, senior vice president of U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop, in a press release.

On a given day in 2017, almost 443,000 children were in foster care in the U.S. They were about 8 years old on average.

Sesame Street has a history of giving a voice to kids who aren’t depicted often on children’s TV shows. In 2017, the show introduced a character with autism, Julia. The producers created the character after getting advice from child psychologists and autism organizations.