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Houseparent Description & Criteria

Houseparents Make a Difference

As a houseparent, you and your spouse will work closely with students. This is your chance to truly make an impact on students’ lives. You’ll serve as role models, help build character, and teach life lessons and core values.

Houseparents care for students in a home-like environment. This helps the school stay true to the original vision of MHS: to raise students in a nurturing, non-institutional setting. Read our houseparent description and criteria.

A group of Milton Hershey School students with their housefather.

Job Description

As a residential school, we have the chance to care for the needs of the whole child. Houseparents play a critical role in ensuring student success in every aspect of their life.

Houseparents live in and manage homes of eight to 12 students of the same gender and age range. You’ll assist with homework, oversee chores, and prepare meals. Though you’ll also bond with the students by playing board games, enjoying outdoor activities, and more. All of this creates a family-like atmosphere in the student homes.

Milton Hershey School students eat breakfast in their student home.

Daily Life as a Houseparent

Before School
Houseparents help students prepare for the school day. They provide a nutritious breakfast, make sure students are dressed and ready for their school day, lead a daily devotion, and ensure students get to school on time.

During the School Day
During school hours, houseparents are off-duty for their personal time. They can enjoy the amenities on campus by taking advantage of our walking paths and fitness center. We even have an outdoor swimming pool for the summer. There also are many things to do in the town of Hershey.

A Milton Hershey School houseparent gives a student a bowl in the student home kitchen.

Houseparents are in high gear, ensuring students have a nutritious meal, do chores and homework, get to and from extracurricular activities, and get sufficient sleep.

Weekend schedules are less structured. Houseparents can enjoy recreational activities with the students. There are many options, such as local cultural events in Hershey or an afternoon of crafts. Sunday Chapel Service is a requirement for all students and on-duty houseparents.

Houseparent Job Criteria

Student needs come first at Milton Hershey School, and the couples caring for them are dedicated to each student’s growth. As houseparents, you are responsible for the health and well-being of your students while on duty. You commit to a schedule of 12 days on, followed by three days off. You’ll also receive ongoing training and development to assist in helping our students succeed.

To make sure all of our houseparent couples are a good fit, we have rigorous requirements. See if you and your spouse are a good match to nurture, support, and protect our students.


  • Couples must be legally married for close to three years or more
  • Twenty-seven years of age or more preferred for both spouses
  • Minimum of high school diploma or GED
  • No more than two dependent children in residence
  • Demonstrated successful experience (paid or volunteer) working with children from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Able and willing to work in student homes of either gender and any age group (pre-K through 12th grade)
  • Ability to successfully complete an extensive clearance process
  • Ability to meet the health and physical requirements of the position
  • Driving records and credit history in good standing
  • Effective communication and language skills necessary
  • Certain breeds of dogs may be permitted (reviewed on a case-by-case basis)

Application Process

If houseparenting feels right for you and your spouse, begin the application now. The hiring process is demanding and includes several steps that take up to four months.

Step 1: Online Application

First, you and your spouse submit an online application as a couple.

Step 2: Telephone Interviews

Applications are reviewed and potential matches are contacted for telephone interviews.

Step 3: On-Campus Interviews

If your phone interviews go well, you and your spouse will be invited for an on-campus interview. That includes an overnight stay in a student home. (You’ll also need to obtain clearances.)

Step 4: Background Check

If you have a successful interview, the next step is a detailed background check. It includes multiple clearances and a home visit with an investigator. We’ll need to validate truthful statements for your application, education, and marriage. We also check your financial history and references. If offered the job, a medical check is also required.

Step 5: Orientation & Training

If you accept the job, you’ll go through three days of orientation. Then you’ll begin a six-week training period. That’s where you’ll learn the ins and outs by shadowing other houseparents.

MHS houseparents

Request More Information

Thinking about houseparenting? Sign up for our Houseparent Talent Network to learn more about the position and stay up-to-date on openings.

A Milton Hershey School elementary teacher works with a student on his laptop.

Other Careers at MHS

Houseparenting isn’t the right fit for everyone. But if you still want to serve our students, check out our other job openings. You may be surprised at the variety of roles we need on campus.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.