KVC’s Partnership with Sesame Street in Communities
Helping Children Understand Difficult Topics Like Childhood Trauma, Foster Care & Parental Addiction
Through Sesame Street in Communities, beloved characters like Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster are helping young children make sense of difficult topics. Sesame Street in Communities is a nationwide initiative from Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, 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 and the Joan Ganz Cooney Fund for Vulnerable Children.
In early 2019, Sesame Street in Communities and KVC Health Systems partnered to better help children and families in Kansas City, Kansas and beyond. This meant that KVC joined a dynamic group of community-based nonprofits across the U.S. who are all passionate about “Sesametizing” their communities. In other words, they’re using Sesame Street’s research-backed tools, resources and training to help kids and families grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Check out this video of Elmo getting ready to visit Kansas City, Kansas:
Due to KVC’s child welfare and behavioral health services, its use of the Sesame Street resources is focused on supporting local families on the topics of childhood trauma, resilience, health and wellness, foster care and parental addiction. Through caring adults who use the free Sesame Street in Communities tools, it’s almost like Sesame Street is jumping off the screen and into homes and communities, so TV’s most trusted characters can help children in even more meaningful ways.
Results from the First Year of Partnership
KVC used Sesame Street in Communities resources to:
- Train 52 child welfare and mental health professionals and reach 200 families in the Kansas City, KS area
- Trained over 100 teachers and other leaders in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools through our trauma-informed schools partnership
- Provide 480 toolkits to families on topics like family grieving, incarceration and family forever
- Educate over 1,000 foster families in four states: Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky and West Virginia
- Encourage professionals and parents to sign up for free accounts on the Sesame Street in Communities website.
Meet Karli, a Young Muppet in Foster Care
This past May, children met Karli, a new Muppet in foster care. In one video called “A Place for You,” 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.”
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 Workshop, “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 the Sesame Street Muppets, Sesame Street helps children and families cope with tough topics like foster care. Read more about the introduction of Karli.
Through Karli, Children Learn About Parental Addiction
In October, 6-year-old Karli’s story unfolded a bit more. Sesame Workshop continued Karli’s storyline to reveal that the reason Karli needed temporary foster care is that her mom was struggling with addiction.
5.7 million children under the age of 11 in the U.S. live in a household with a parent struggling with addiction. Living with a parent who is battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations a young child can face. While addiction is a “grown-up issue,” it impacts children in ways that are not visible.
Sesame Street in Communities developed a set of resources designed to offer resilience, hope, and optimism to children and families. Their lesson is that this challenge doesn’t have to define a child’s future. Families face difficult times, but they can get through tough times and come out stronger.
For example, Sesame Street in Communities helps adults answer children’s questions about addiction. They suggest explaining that addiction is a sickness of the brain. Addiction makes people feel that they need drugs or alcohol to feel okay. Like any sickness, people need treatment to get better. It is brave to ask for help.
Check Out the Resources
If you have any opportunity to positively impact the life of a young child, consider using the free Sesame Street in Communities resources. Their website, www.SesameStreetinCommunities.org, is full of videos, interactive games, printable activity sheets, articles and much more. You can sign up for a free account and will be notified of new content releases.
Imagine a world that is “Sesametized” – where caring adults help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder. It’s a lot like KVC’s vision of a future in which every person is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community. Together, KVC Health Systems and Sesame Street in Communities working with our many local partners and families, are working every day to create that bright future.
If you have any questions about KVC’s partnership with Sesame Street in Communities, contact Jenny Kutz at firstname.lastname@example.org.