SUMMIT, NJ - A collaboration with Summit-based national nonprofit Family Promise and a few other friends has resulted in Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC), a program of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces Sesame Street, creating a suite of online resources to help Family Promise and other providers better serve children experiencing homelessness.
When they decided to tackle the issue, SSIC engaged Family Promise, the nation’s leading nonprofit addressing family homelessness, as one of their expert advisors. The result is a collection of bilingual materials for Family Promise Affiliates, parents, caregivers, and other providers to help children cope with the trauma of losing their home. The books, videos, articles, and exercises are available sesamestreetincommunities.org and on youtube.com.
For the very first time, a muppet is experiencing homelessness on Sesame Street. Lily, a shy seven-year-old, fuchsia muppet who first appeared on Sesame Street in 2011 as a food-insecure child, has now lost her home. She and her parents are staying with their friend, Sofia, a real-life character played by actress Jasmine Romero. Through a series of activities, videos and “We Got This,” a children’s book written by children’s author Kama Einhorn, Sofia helps Lily come to terms with her family’s situation and learn not to let it define the way she thinks about herself.
Family Promise will make the resources available to their 200+ Affiliates nationwide, incorporating them into case management and sharing them with partner agencies. Designed not only for families experiencing homelessness and their providers, the materials also aim to reduce the stigma of homelessness that too often informs the public perception of these children and their parents.
“Sesame Street has been a champion of inclusivity, awareness, and advocacy for all children. We are thrilled to see this effort to provide a resource to children and families affected by homelessness, and as importantly those who engage with them in schools and elsewhere,” said Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers. “Working with Sesame Street, on these materials and at our National Conference, aligns our visions and brings two leading organizations together to address the issue of homelessness for children holistically.”
The partnership between Family Promise and Sesame Street, with its nearly 50-year commitment to addressing kids’ developmental, physical, and emotional needs, holds the potential of being a transformative step in the effort to raise awareness and support for families experiencing homelessness.
To further broaden the relationship, Sesame Workshop will attend and participate in Family Promise's National Conference, which will be held in San Antonio from April 11-13. They will conduct a media workshop, give an inspirational talk, and provide printed copies of their “We Got This” book for conference attendees.
Family homelessness continues to increase, with public schools reporting 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness in the 2016-17 school year—a 70% increase over the past decade. Overall, 2.5 million children will experience homelessness this year in America, with more than half of them under the age of six.