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State: Hicksville day care's license suspended after tots wander off

Graciela Castro, 24, of Hicksville, was charged with

Graciela Castro, 24, of Hicksville, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said.     Credit: NCPD

The state Office of Children and Family Service has shuttered a Hicksville day care center whose owner was arrested after police said two toddlers wandered off Monday — with one of them being found on a busy roadway.

The state agency suspended the license of Chella's Childcare on Jerusalem Avenue and is moving to permanently revoke the company's ability to operate, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Records show the state slapped Chella's Childcare with 25 violations in the past month alone, including for children left unsupervised, lack of clean bedding, unsafe food preparation and excessive use of television. Only two of the violations, state records show, have been corrected.

The facility had been cited for an additional 47 similar violations since May 2017, the bulk of which have since been corrected, records show.

After being made aware of Monday's incident, the state Office of Children and Family Service said the agency "required the provider to immediately cease operations. The provider’s license was suspended and OCFS is moving to revoke it. Our agency is cooperating with law enforcement in addition to its own investigation."

Chella’s, which has been licensed since December 2016, had a capacity of 12 children, ages 6 weeks to 12 years, and four additional school-age children, state officials said. The state requires one caregiver for every two children younger than 2 in attendance.

Messages left Tuesday with the company's owner, Graciela Castro, 24, of Hicksville, were not returned.

Castro was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child on Monday after a 3-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy left the child care facility through an unlocked rear door, Nassau police said.

A driver spotted the girl standing by herself just before 11 a.m. in the right lane of Jerusalem Avenue, near Eighth Street, police said. After escorting the girl off the road, the driver found the boy standing alone on the curbside grass, authorities said. They were not injured.

Castro was released on an appearance ticket and is due to return to court on Dec. 17.

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