A Place to Call Home

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Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Angelina Jolie: These are just a few of the famous faces who have gotten involved in the world crisis of homeless children. What is in the best interests of the child is once again a hot topic, and finally, with a twist. Orphanages are becoming part of the discussion again, but in a modern-day form.

A Place to Call Home is the untold story of present-day orphanages ? now called residential education facilities (REFs) and academies ? and ...

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Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Angelina Jolie: These are just a few of the famous faces who have gotten involved in the world crisis of homeless children. What is in the best interests of the child is once again a hot topic, and finally, with a twist. Orphanages are becoming part of the discussion again, but in a modern-day form.

A Place to Call Home is the untold story of present-day orphanages — now called residential education facilities (REFs) and academies — and how they fit into the spectrum of choices for children who no longer have a family to return home to every night. Noted journalist Martha Randolph Carr tells the story of five residential education facilities from the heart of urban America to the plains of Texas.

Go along with Carr on an amazing journey of discovery as she opens the doors of REFs and shows the cottages, resident couples, dining halls, gyms, flute lessons, bowling trips, hayrides, karate lessons, graduations, and many more glimpses into the lives of the thousands of children who now live and thrive in these places and call them home today. Learn how the tools for successful reinvention used in these academies can be adapted by anyone who is facing great changes such as divorce or career shifts. And get solid tips from each home on how every family can raise a happier, more confident, and independent child.

As Carr learns about the families that are made in residential education facilities, she relates the moving story of her relationship with her son, Louie. She discovers that though they have been pulled apart, the secrets the homes have to share could become the road map to mending their troubled relationship and allow them to embrace the constant changes required to feel fulfilled and live without regret.

Part study of modern-day orphanages and part memoir, A Place to Call Home shows us an effective solution for America' troubled families. In light of the demonstrable successes of REFs in helping homeless children, Carr questions why there should be any controversy about them, especially considering the decline in the number of available foster families. She argues that REFs are a less-expensive option for public money, providing wrap-around care and structure to the world’s most vulnerable population. Furthermore, REFs have succeeded in sending more children to colleges and trade schools than from the general populace.

Finally, she describes her own foundation, the Shared Abundance Foundation, a national college scholarship fund for children who have grown up in US residential education facilities, plus the Family Tree Project, which works to reunite the thousands of alumni of orphanages who cannot find each other. Small vignettes of REF alumni are included between chapters.

A Place to Call Home is a compelling story of many dedicated people who are succeeding in providing a better life and a hopeful future for more and more homeless children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Martha Randolph Carr captures the story of a mother's journey to save herself and her son by letting go and finding miracles in America's orphanages. Children's homes are a success story that have been hidden away for too long and Carr's message is inspirational for us all."
—Lillian Vernon
Founder of Lillian Vernon Corporation

"Carr's book should touch hearts and open minds." —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

Afounder of the Shared Abundance Foundation (which gives scholarship aid to orphanage alums), Carr believes orphanages have a bad reputation because our 19th-century institutions were so cruel. She argues that, if policymakers would only visit America's modern residential education facilities (or REFs, as orphanages are now called), they might be more supportive, or at least not so biased in favor of foster care. As Carr sees it, most states pass legislation favoring foster care because they believe they are offering homeless children the next best thing to the nuclear family, unaware that good foster families may be scarce. REFs, on the other hand, specialize in offering children the therapy and support they need after a lifetime of abuse and neglect. In her opening chapter, Carr introduces herself as a divorced mother with a troubled son, before segueing into a brief history of American orphanages. In subsequent chapters she visits a handful of REFs to admire their successes, which she interweaves with accounts of her own son's deepening problems. In fact, the last REF she visits, the Mercy Home in Chicago, becomes her son's home when she can no longer parent him herself. More inspirational than informative, Carr's book should touch hearts and open discussions. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591025108
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha Randolph Carr (New York, NY) is the creator and executive director of the Shared Abundance Foundation and the Family Tree Project. Carr is also a journalist who frequently writes for the Washington Post; a columnist for Meredith Viera’s Web site, www.ClubMom.com, and www.IdealLives.com; and the author of the film scripts A Cardboard Fable and Wired and the novels Wired and The Sitting Sisters.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting and inspiring

    Martha Randolph Carr makes a strong case that the Victorian image painted by Dickens of orphanages is untrue in modern day America. Instead the author believes that residential education facilities (REFs) are safe nurturing places to raise orphans and troubled youth that are as good and in many ways superior to foster care as many provide needed counseling. The founder of the Shared Abundance Foundation that provides scholarships to orphans, Ms. Carr uses anecdotal evidence including that of her son to argue that REFs should be considered a prime option for at risk children especially since they are cheaper and provide professional help. Interestingly the anecdotes lead to an inspiring somewhat autobiographical account as the story of Ms. Carr and her son will touch readers more so than her support of REFs. Still A PLACE TO CALL HOME will add to the debate of what is nest for an orphaned or troubled child as Ms. Carr brings REFs into the social conscience of choice --- Harriet Klausner

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