Policy: Intergenerational Care Facilities
At a recent Minnesota Young DFL round table in Moorhead, I listened to a couple in their thirties express concern about the lack of childcare options in this part of the state. There is a new facility under construction in Crookston, but a lack of affordable options is still a concern for younger people looking to start a family in the area
Additionally, we know that the need for elder care facilities is rising. Census data tells us that Red Lake, Marshall, and Kittson county all have over 20% of their population age 65+ with Polk, Roseau and Pennington all over 17.5%. Compare that to Scott county in the metro area with half that percentage.  The good news is that there is a solution that addresses both of these issues at the same time.
There are just over 100 intergenerational care facilities in the United States. They combine child care and elder care into one building and mix the two groups for a variety of activities from music and reading to nature walks and cooking. The benefits seen by participants are both emotional and economical. 
Older generations experienced better physical health, better mental health, decreased feelings of loneliness, decreased feelings of isolation, increased engagement in activities, and more positive views of other generations. Younger generations better social development, enhanced educational outcomes, and more positive views of other generations. 
Sharing of staff saves on personnel costs and sharing of space requires less square footage with lowers rent. The economics of the situation are quite clear.
Sources for all those claims come from extensive studies from both Generations United and the AARP. Their reports cite enormous amounts of data on their own too and each can be read in full at these links. 
This is a no brainer for us here in rural Minnesota. The state has multiple options for kickstarting the development of intergenerational care facilities. We can provide tax breaks to private businesses and tuition forgiveness for both teachers and healthcare staff. Northwest Minnesota would be the perfect place for a test run of the effectiveness of these incentives.
We need more options for childcare and we need better options for elder care that keeps quality of life high, an investment in intergenerational care facilities in rural Minnesota can do both to the betterment of all in the community.