Allison Perkins-Caldwell is the CEO and founder of Allison’s Infant & Toddler Centers, University Childcare, Little Feet Big Dreams Learning Academy, and Baby Cakes Learning Academy. Mrs. Caldwell is a graduate of Chicago State University with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a minor in Psychology. In 2011, she obtained a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Early Childhood Education from The University of Illinois at Chicago. Allison plans to pursue a PH.D. Non-Profit Management in 2023. Allison served her country for 8 years in the Army National Guard and was honorably discharged.
While living on the Southwest side of Chicago Allison was watching the news and saw a story that spoke to the violence that was plaguing the Englewood community. The story deeply moved her because she was born and raised in this community and her memories were not the same as those being portrayed in that story. So, she decided to take action. She figured that to change a community’s mindset you need to start with its; youngest citizens, In 2002 Allison’s Infant and Toddler Center (Englewood) was born, her doors officially opened in November of 2004.
As the violence grew in Chicago Allison decided it was time to reach out to more youngsters, so she expanded into the Roseland community. She remembers that it was incredibly challenging in those early years sometimes the centers would have to close early because of the gun violence. Allison was balancing a full load; she was still working throughout the city of Chicago as a Registered Nurse and managing two childcare centers in conjunction with caring for ailing parent. This pushed her to step out on faith and walk away from the Nursing profession that she loved so much to work fulltime in her centers and support her parents. It was the best decision she ever made.
Another opportunity for expansion came in the Greater Grand Crossing/Park Manor area in 2010. Allison was excited to begin working in yet another area of the city. She had come full circle… combining her medical training with education. She began partnering with her alderman and members of the community to host health fairs and town hall meetings. She felt that her schools were at the epicenter of the communities they served. She joined local boards and Chambers and began developing partnerships with other organizations to pool resources and utilize talents without duplicating services. In 2018 Allison expanded to the Woodlawn community area with the University Childcare of Chicago and to Augusta Georgia with Baby Cakes Learning Academy. Both centers service children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age. In 2020, the demand for more choices and higher quality childcare inspired Allison to open Little Feet Big Dreams in Monee Illinois for children 6 weeks to 12 years of age.
Allison’s centers have grown over the last eighteen years and several locations are NAEYC accredited and Gold rated. NAEYC accreditation is a mark which signals that of the highest quality in a childcare center and that it has met the highest standards for early childhood education in the nation. A gold rating is equally significant especially in the State of Illinois and it acknowledges the performance of a childcare center and its high level of quality.
Allison’s Infant & Toddler Center has several programs for underserved youth such as: Head Start, Early Head Start, Preschool for All, Prevention Initiative, Head Start Home Visiting/Early Head Start Home Visiting and Child and Adult Care Food Program. Her childcare centers have received the Award of Excellence for Family and Community Partnerships from the Governor’s Office. The Award of Excellence is highest recognition a childcare center can receive for quality in the State of Illinois. She has received countless grants and awards for her work with children and families.
She is a Professional Registered Nurse; an Infant Toddler Specialist Level 5; has a PEL (Professional Educator’s License-ECE); a Level 5 Early Childhood Education credential; a Level III Family Engagement Specialist credential; a Level II Director’s credential and a Type 73. She works for the Council of Professional Recognition (Washington, DC) as a Professional Development Specialist; teaches a Child Development Associate’s course, and is personally responsible for over 100 educators becoming nationally certified to work in all 50 states.
Allison works with several social service and community groups in the Chicago land and surrounding suburbs. She has had partnerships with and received funding from Department of Family Support Services, Easter Seals Metropolitan, Henry Booth House, and Chicago Public Schools. She serves on the CCRE Advisory Council; is a board member of the Imani Pearls Community Development Foundation; the former Vice President of SECA (Southeast Childcare Association, and a steering committee member of CCAU (Childcare Advocates Unite). She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Chi Omega Omega Chapter where she has served in several elected positions; a member of Top Ladies of Distinction Evergreen Park Chapter where she serves as the Teen Co-Advisor; a Life member of the NAACP, and a published author.
Allison has been married for nineteen years to Gawain Caldwell and they have four children: Scott, William, Autumn, and Jackson.