Leave it to Sesame St. Workshop to tackle yet an issue that plagues far too many families: addiction. No stranger to confronting issues that others avoid, Sesame St. has in the past dealt with problems causing breakups of the family such as incarceration and homelessness.
In a recent video, Karli, a six-year-old muppet with blonde hair, is in foster care. She shares with Elmo that her mother has a problem and is in recovery. Elmo, in turn, explains what addiction is, why a parent is sick and how that parent is getting better even if absent from home.
The opioid epidemic is driving addicted parents from the home, sometimes for days, in search of highly addicted drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, and crystal meth. Children have to fend for themselves.
Unfortunately, Karli’s situation is common nowadays. In 2019, approximately one in 3 children entered foster care. With 130 Americans dying daily from opioid overdoses, 258,00 children are in today’s foster care system.
Not only is the foster care system swelling, but one in three kids is living with grandparents who don’t receive the same economic support as foster parents. Drained of their savings, grandparents are exhausted being responsible 24-7 for younger children.
The emotional fallout of these children can also be seen in schools where teachers witness addiction’s impact on the broken families. Sheree Westin, President of Social Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, saw the need for these first-time videos for children as a valuable resource. It was a smart decision.