Homeless Education Resource Network (HERN)

  • The Homeless Education Resource Network (HERN) was established 24 years ago to meet 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.


    Contact the HERN office at (617) 635-8037 for support or to receive access to the HERN Toolkit for Schools.


    HERN is partnering with Suffolk University in a pilot in which Suffolk students will provide tutoring/mentoring to BPS students experiencing homelessness who may need additional academic and social emotional support during this traumatic time in their lives. With additional instructional time we know that students can benefit and maintain and/or improve academically with additional tutoring and mentoring support. Therefore, BPS has partnered with Suffolk to provide this service. The HERN/Suffolk University Initiative will cater to the students and schools by providing a “pull-out” or “pull-in” approach to academic support with tutoring instruction. Schools participating in the pilot, which include Mildred Ave (K-8) School, Mattahunt Elementary/Early Learning Center and Community Academy of Science and Health (C.A.S.H.), will be asked to provide space, and a point person to coordinate and facilitate the initiative at their school. The initiative will begin in late January with 13 weeks of tutoring/mentoring. Each Suffolk student will be responsible for 60 hours of community service learning – up to 10 hours per week.

    Boston Public Schools are pleased to announce an increased investment in homelessness support available to schools in SY 17-18. With a targeted approach to closing opportunity and achievement gaps, a $1.2 million investment by the City of Boston will benefit more than 3,500 students experiencing homelessness. Dollars will be 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. Schools will be able to decide how funding is spent to directly impact the greatest needs of their students. The BPS Homeless Education Resource Network (HERN) within the new BPS Opportunity Youth Department (OY) will provide guidance to schools with an index of support services and resources that have been proven to be effective. Additionally, BPS will provide enhanced training and assistance at the school level to ensure that students experiencing homelessness have individualized resources and support to learn successfully in the classroom, as well as guidance to create sustainable project models.