Riverside working mom says daughter is thriving in preschool

When it came time for Jannet Pikos to find a preschool for her daughter, Mycah, her top priority was finding a quality program, but she also had to keep her eye on affordability.

“We’ve always been a paycheck-to-paycheck type family,” said Pikos, who is married and also has sons aged 6 and 9.

She started looking for a preschool in the spring of 2022 with the goal of enrolling Mycah, now 3, in the fall of 2022.

“The biggest issue we ran into at that time was (finding) places that didn’t have a wait list or would have room for her come fall,” said Pikos, 43, who works from her Riverside home as a quality assurance analyst.

A former child care worker herself, Pikos said she knew what to look for in a facility and the teachers, and what places to steer away from based on what she’d heard about them over the years.

She said parents should look at state licensing reports on the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website before making a decision.

“A big one would be trust your gut,” Pikos said. “If it doesn’t feel right check out other places.”

One of Pikos’ sons had attended a preschool that partnered with Dayton and Montgomery County Preschool Promise and so she reached out to see if she could get some financial help from that organization, which is funded by Montgomery County, the city of Dayton and local philanthropists.

She was able to do so and enrolled Mycah at United Rehabilitation Services, which partners with both Preschool Promise and Head Start.

“It’s really that kindergarten readiness we are getting them ready for,” said Tracy Pohlabel, youth services manager at the center, which straddles Riverside and Huber Heights

She said about 80% of the children have developmental disabilities, a group that has particular difficulty finding child care and preschool slots, and the rest do not have disabilities. While Mycah does not have a development disability diagnosis, Pikos said, she is benefiting from the physical, occupational and speech therapy available there to help her with things like core strength and holding a pencil.

Mycah is thriving, said Pikos.

“She has already, as far as academics, expanded her counting. She can identify several letters now. She can spell her name, recognizes her own name. She can tell you some letter sounds. If she sees a letter she will associate it with other things. She knows her shapes,” Pikos said. “She’s now got a friend, her first best friend.”

Participating families also receive Preschool Promise play boxes to assist with learning at home and a monthly book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Mycah loves it.

“It matches up with activities she’s doing in the classroom,” Pikos said.

Pikos believes there should be more public funding for child care.

“It’s easy to say it’s the family’s responsibility when you have a high income coming in,” Pikos said. “When you are in a family, as many are, in a position where you are already struggling to make ends meet, where you are already living paycheck to paycheck $800 (a month for preschool) is not something that you can easily shell out.”

Not only does quality, affordable child care and preschool allow parents to work, it also is a huge benefit to the child, she said.

“These babies need these exposures in a social environment. In addition, most teachers are able to identify if a kiddo needs further assistance or evaluation,” Pikos said. “Catching any developmental needs early is key to the child successfully growing, developing and learning.”

Follow @LynnHulseyDDN on Twitter and Facebook


‘Child care crisis’ holds back children, parents, economy

Riverside working mom says daughter is thriving in preschool

‘Workforce behind the workforce’ challenged by low pay even as child care becomes less affordable

PHOTOS: See kids learning and playing at local child care centers, preschools and at school

New public money helping child care crisis; Advocates say more is needed

About the Author