Siskin Children’s Institute Announces Closing of Early Learning Centers


CHATTANOOGA, TN – After more than 70 years serving area children and their families, Siskin Children’s Institute has made the difficult decision to close its early learning centers located on 1101 Carter Street and 225 Lookout Street (formerly Little Miss Mag Early Learning Center).

The Early Learning Centers will close their doors permanently effective Friday, September 29, 2023.  The rising costs of operating the centers and difficulties recruiting staff were factors in this decision.

“Siskin Children’s Institute has been committed to providing high quality, inclusive early education to children for many years, so the decision to close our learning centers was quite difficult and one we did not reach easily,” said Derek Bullard, President & CEO.  “Since the pandemic, the costs of operating the centers have increased and our enrollment never fully recovered.  In addition, like many early learning centers we’ve experienced difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.  We arrived at this decision by weighing the cost of operating the program against our impact, the quality of the program, and our ability to fulfill our core mission.”

Siskin Children’s Institute has historically relied on its endowment to bridge the gap between tuition, salaries, and operational costs of the early learning centers. Many endowments were negatively impacted during the pandemic and rising inflation, plus staffing challenges in the early learning industry have significantly increased the overall cost of running the centers in recent years.  The Institute serves over 5,000 children each year and of the children enrolled in the early learning centers, 26 had been diagnosed with special needs. The cost associated with operating the two centers and the associated losses ultimately impacted other programs within its mission.

“Serving children with special needs will continue to be our mission.  Although the decision to close our early learning centers was incredibly difficult, it will ultimately allow us to increase our impact for children with special needs throughout the region, ensuring that we honor the legacy of the Siskin family whose vision created the Institute”, said Dr. Valerie Rutledge, Siskin Children’s Institute Board of Directors Chair.

The closing of the early learning centers will not affect the medical, therapy, home and community-based early intervention, or family resource programs provided by Siskin Children’s Institute. In addition, the institute will continue to provide medical and therapy services both in its Nashville office and throughout the region.

Bullard continued, “This change will adversely affect both parents and our employees and we are committed to help through this closure.  Our goal in the next few weeks is to help identify resources for parents needing childcare and other services.  Additionally, employees who remain through the transition will receive severance packages including health insurance and job placement assistance.


Founded in 1950 by Mose and Garrison Siskin in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Siskin Children’s Institute is a non-profit organization serving Tennessee and Georgia, and achieves its mission through pediatric healthcare services, home visiting, and outreach in the field of developmental disabilities. The Institute provides developmental pediatric health care services; therapy, family support and professional development programs; and home and community-based early intervention.