Happy boy playing cards with great grandmother and mother at table
(Credit: Maskot / Getty Images)

The creation of on-site child care services in some of Nebraska’s assisted living communities as well as nursing homes would be incentivized under a proposed bill.

LB 1178, establishing the Intergenerational Care Facility Incentive Grant Program, would provide one-time startup grants of up to $100,000 to facilities certified for Medicare or Medicaid. Communities could use the grants for structural updates, outside campus space, equipment and supplies.

The bill would provide $300,000 in general fund dollars for the program in fiscal year 2024-2025. The state would award grants on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to rural communities. Facilities cited for providing a substandard quality of care during their most recent surveys would not be eligible for the program. 

The state’s long-term care leaders said they see it as an opportunity to address two pressing issues: the workforce challenges and a lack of child care, especially in rural areas.

“Studies have shown that the benefits of older adults having interaction with children can be incredibly powerful,” LeadingAge Nebraska CEO Kierstin Reed told McKnight’s Senior Living, adding that society has become “increasingly generationally segregated” in recent years. “Proving meaningful cross-age relationships supports decreasing isolation and loneliness while providing a sense of belonging and increasing self-esteem for older adults. This interaction also has a positive impact on the social and emotional skills of children.”

Reed said that if the bill passes and the project proceeds, she anticipates that the practice of intergenerational programming will be studied and expanded across the state to provide “meaningful engagement” for all Nebraskans.

“LeadingAge Nebraska sees this pilot project as an opportunity to invest in our long-term care providers in a way that will bring meaningful change to their community,” she said. 

The Nebraska Health Care Association, which includes the Nebraska Assisted Living Association, said it has multiple assisted living and nursing home members that offer on-site children. And although the program may not generate revenue, they called the benefits of intergenerational care “immeasurable.”

“These settings allow children to become more at ease interacting with diverse populations, provide residents with meaningful experiences, and serve as a potential pipeline of future nursing home or assisted living facility team members,” NHCA President and CEO Jalene Carpenter told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Some intergenerational childcare facilities are at capacity and while this bill addresses new childcare facilities, funding to also include the expansion of existing intergenerational child care facilities is needed.”

Carpenter said the bill would help remove cost barriers, including those related to construction of appropriate indoor and outdoor spaces, fire and life safety requirements, and necessary equipment and supplies.