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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press / Karlen Eaton spends time with Liam while playing outdoors at Little Miss Mag in 2017 when the early learning center celebrated its 100th anniversary in business.

The Siskin Children's Institute will take over the Little Miss Mag Early Learning Center by the end of the year under a merger plan approved by directors for both of the nonprofit child care centers.

Siskin, which is licensed to care for up to 190 special needs and able-bodied children at its facility on Carter Street downtown, plans to retain all of the staff at Little Miss Mag, which is licensed to care for up to 124 children at its location at 225 Lookout Street.

Derek Bullard, president and CEO of the Siskin Children's Institute, said the historic merger will combine two of the oldest and most respected child care centers in Chattanooga.

Little Miss Mag has operated downtown since its start in 1917 by Mrs. Henry Ewing as one of the city's first child care centers. Siskin was founded in 1950 by Mose and Garrison Siskin to provide development pediatric healthcare services and early childhood education for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.

"We are working alongside the Little Miss Mag board and staff to ensure a cohesive transition," Bullard said in an announcement of Siskin's acquisition. "Little Miss Mag has always been a great place for children to learn and develop and Siskin is excited to expand while honoring LMM's legacy of caring."

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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Pres / Little Miss Mag learning center is located at 225 Lookout Street.

Little Miss Mag is named for the daughter of its first board president, Mrs. Garnett Andrews Sr., and currently operates in the first floor of an apartment and commercial complex near the Walnut Street bridge.

Preschool and early childhood centers were hurt by shutdowns and enrollment losses last year and many centers continue to struggle during the ongoing pandemic with staffing shortages this year.

Siskin and Little Miss Mag officials declined Tuesday to discuss the pending merger of the two nonprofits, but they said the combination should help ensure the future of their child care services.

"We are thrilled by this partnership and excited to move forward with the acquisition by Siskin Children's Institute," Meredith Perry, the board president of Little Miss Mag, said in a statement. "The synergy and opportunities generated by this merger will ensure sustainability and provide the best ongoing support for our dedicated staff and the families we serve."

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