Intergenerational shared sites are not a new concept in the United States. Messiah Lifeways, a residential community for older adults in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, opened more than 40 years ago with a childcare center and preschool on its campus. It’s still thriving today.

Research shows that intergenerational shared sites increase the health and well-being of both young and older participants, reduce social isolation, and create cost efficiencies. They are joyful places. And unsurprisingly, the concept is a popular one; when asked, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of shared sites. A recent Harris poll commissioned by Generations United and the Eisner Foundation found that nearly all Americans believe older adults and children have skills and talents to help one another, and that 85 percent would prefer a shared site that fosters intergenerational connection over an age-segregated facility if they or a loved one needed care.

And yet, while successful shared sites exist in countries around the world—including Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain, and Singapore—there are fewer than 150 of them in the United States, compared to tens of thousands of age-segregated care facilities around the country.

How can advocates of shared sites, including nonprofits, community leaders, caregiving professionals, and entrepreneurs overcome these hurdles and ultimately proliferate intergenerational shared sites? After decades of visiting, studying, and advocating for intergenerational shared sites, we believe that the following four strategies can dramatically expand their number.

  1. Increase Awareness of the Benefits of Shared Sites
  2. Engage Champions and Build Community Alliances
  3. Find Ways to Share Resources, Including Funding
  4. Encourage the Development of New Policies and Standards

Read the full article about childcare and eldercare programs by Donna M. Butts & Shannon E. Jarrott at Stanford Social Innovation Review.