The road out of the COVID-19 pandemic looks tough for Amy Jacobs, who oversees preschool and daycare services for hundreds of thousands of toddlers and their families in Georgia.

Jacobs, who heads Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning, faces a recent loss of preschool teachers during the pandemic to higher-paying jobs and the looming end of life-saving federal relief for local child-care programs. She’s also watching President Joe Biden’s administration’s proposal for nationally funded universal preschool to see what costs it could bring to Georgia's existing state-run preschool program.

Amid challenges, the 22-year veteran of state government sees opportunities for building preschool-teacher training programs to help boost early-education staff across Georgia, particularly since the pandemic has exposed the need for healthy preschools and daycares that prepare children to succeed in school and allow parents to work jobs without having to devote all their time to child care.

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