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Sesame Street's Newest Character Is A Foster Child

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Meet Karli-- Sesame Street's new adorable young muppet, who also happens to be a foster child.

The bright green puppet with yellow streaked ponytails and a purple nose was introduced in an effort to make the show more inclusive. She made her debut appearance on the May 20 episode of the long-running hit TV show. She’s part of the Sesame Street in Communities effort to help kids deal with hard topics like the foster system.

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Karli and her foster parents, Clem and Dalia, appear in several videos where they discuss being a foster family and what it entails. The foster parents are described as Karli’s “for-now” parents, and they talk about always being there for their foster child.

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Sesame Workshop has also set up 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 share pizza with Karli, Clem and Dalia.

“Sometimes even mommies and daddies need some help taking care of their children,” Dalia says, explaining the role of foster parents to Elmo. “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 one video, called “On Your Team,” Elmo’s dad, Louie, chats with Dalia and Clem about the experience of being foster parents. 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.

Sesame Street is definitely trying to make its cast of characters more inclusive. In 2017, the show introduced Julia, a new 4-year-old character with autism. In episodes of the show, other characters had the opportunity to learn how to play and interact with Julia, teaching kids about autism along the way.

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