May is National Foster Care Month, and our friends at Sesame Street in Communities are marking the occasion by launching a new foster care initiative.
Through videos, a storybook, printables and interactive activities, children will meet Karli, a new muppet in foster care. Watch this video called “A Place for You” in which Karli feels sad because she is not sure she has a place at the dinner table. Karli’s foster parents, who consider themselves “for-now parents,” assure Karli through a beautiful, heartfelt song, “You are safe, you are strong, there is a place for you here — you belong.”
Sesame Street in Communities is a nationwide initiative to support parents, caregivers, and community providers in their efforts to give all children, especially the most vulnerable, a strong and healthy start. The initiative is made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Earlier this year, Sesame Street in Communities partnered with KVC Health Systems and its local community teams to support families with young children with a specific focus on resilience, health and wellness, traumatic experiences, and foster care.
This is the first time Sesame Street has covered in-depth the difficult topic of foster care and broader child welfare system involvement, and they do it so well with their creative approach informed by child development research. According to Sesame Street in Communities, “Fostering a child takes patience, resilience and sacrifice. Children in foster care often experience many transitions — from their separation from birth parents, to their placement in foster care, to many moves — and the resources from Sesame Street in Communities are designed to help children in crisis cope along the way.” By using the power of muppets, Sesame Street helps children and families cope with tough topics.
KVC Health Systems is a private, nonprofit organization made up of local teams that care for nearly 7,000 children in foster care in five states each year – Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and West Virginia. Thanks to a multi-year effort to embed trauma-informed care into foster care services and focus on children’s healthy brain development, KVC’s services are proven to help ensure children’s well-being. KVC also safely prevents over 12,000 children from entering foster care each year by providing in-home family preservation services.
The new Sesame Street in Communities resources on foster care include:
- Intro: On Your Team: Elmo’s Daddy chats with his old friends Dalia and Clem, who are new foster parents to a little girl named Karli.
- You Belong (includes song): At a pizza party with Elmo in her new foster home, Karli worries she doesn’t have a “place at the table.”
- A Heart Can Grow: Karli shares with Elmo an art project that demonstrates that while you may feel like your heart is breaking, it can get bigger at the same time, when more love is added.
- A Professional Development Provider Profile: Adriana Molina, LMFT and foster parent (Los Angeles)
- A digital interactive that gives grow-ups and children specific coping and calming strategies they can practice in a digital interactive space and an art-maker canvas
- Printables, including a resource list for foster parents and providers.
- Articles, including possible articles by guest authors including “Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Becoming a Foster Parent.”
- A webinar for providers about the resources
- A storybook, The Feeling Basket, about expressing and managing big feelings.
- To feel safe and reassured. It’s not your fault. All your feelings are okay; I’ll help you talk about them. It’s okay to love your birth parent(s), no matter what.
- To feel seen and heard. I see you. You matter. You’re not alone. I’m listening and I care about your story. You can ask me questions; I will answer them.
- To feel a sense of home and belonging. I’m glad you’re here; you belong here. We’ll find things that can stay the same even though you’re dealing with big changes.
- To maintain a sense of hope, optimism, and confidence. Changes can be hard and pull us away from people we love. But love is also being added to your life; you are meeting new caring adults. You’re strong and brave, you can learn ways you can help yourself feel a little better.
- To hear what they do matters. You are kids’ most important therapy. Your job is about building and rebuilding–rebuilding kids’ sense of safety, trust, family, self—while building new family structures.
- To honor their experiences. Help kids feel seen/heard/recognized; celebrate their strengths and uniqueness. Let them know you’re listening to their stories.
- To hear “we see you.” Thank you for serving kids. What you are doing takes patience, resilience, courage, and sacrifices.
If you are an adult who helps children by serving as their “for-now parent,” thank you. You are making a tremendous difference in the lives of children.
If you would like to learn how you can experience the joy of parenthood and help children in need, contact us to learn about becoming a foster parent in your state.