Homeless Education Resource Network (HERN)

  • The Homeless Education Resource Network (HERN) meets the needs of families who find themselves homeless with a child who requires critical services to attend school. HERN supports students who are without permanent housing to ensure they have access to an equitable and high quality educational experience; and by providing the resources needed for academic and social-emotional success. 

    Who is considered homeless?

    McKinney-Vento Act defines “homeless children and youths” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes—

    • Children and youths who are:
      • sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled-up”);
      • living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
      • living in emergency or transitional shelters; or - abandoned in hospitals;
    • Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
    • Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
    • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.

    Support

    Contact the HERN office at (617) 635-8037 

    HERN Toolkit for Schools

    Initiatives

    Through the School-Housing Partnership, HERN is partnering with Metro Housing Boston and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) to provide intensive training to school-based homeless liaisons around the housing and shelter access process to better support students and families experiencing homelessness in Boston Public Schools (BPS). This initiative will focus on building capacity and institutional knowledge in schools by giving staff the tools, knowledge and resources to connect students and families with immediate shelter and/or a path to housing stability. 

    Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, the City of Boston and BPS have invested in the needs of students and families experiencing homelessness through direct per pupil allocations to school budgets. With an annual allocation of over $1 million, distributed to schools based on need using a weighted student formula (WSF), schools have direct resources to implement innovative and effective initiatives that meet the needs of our most vulnerable students and families. With a targeted approach to closing opportunity gaps, the investment by the City of Boston will benefit more than 4,000 students experiencing homelessness in BPS. The dollars are allocated directly to schools, based on our belief that school leaders – those who are closest to our students – are best positioned to decide how the dollars should be allocated for your specific community. School-based initiatives that have resulted through this investment include clothing closets, food distribution programs, enhanced case management and increased school-community partnerships, just to name a few. HERN provides ongoing consultation and professional development to schools to ensure that students experiencing homelessness have individualized resources and support to learn successfully in the classroom. Additionally, as a resource to schools, BPS maintains an evolving index of support services and resources that have proven to be effective. 

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