Long Island day care owner arrested after toddlers found wandering in street

HICKSVILLE, Long Island (WABC) -- The owner of a Long Island child care service has been arrested on child endangerment charges after police say two toddlers were found in and near the road.

According to Nassau County police, a 44-year-old man was driving south on Jerusalem Avenue in Hicksville Monday morning when he saw a 3-year-old girl standing alone in the right lane.

He stopped and got out to help the child out of the roadway.

At that time, police say the man saw a second child, a 2-year-old boy, standing alone on the curbside grass.

The driver called police, who determined that the children left through a rear gate of Chella's Childcare, a home-based service.

The owner, 24-year-old Graciela Castro, of Hicksville, was taken into custody and charged with two counts of child endangerment. She has been released but is due back in court next month.

The children were not injured.

According to New York State Office of Child and Family Services, Chella's Childcare just last month received 25 violations, including not providing clean and appropriate cribs, cots, beds or mats for the children, for not covering electrical outlets, not having a license for a pet in the house, not preparing and storing food in a safe and sanitary manner and for not maintaining on file daily arrival and departure logs for the children.

The center has received 72 violations since May 2017. The facility was first licensed in December 2016.

The day care's license is now suspended, and the state is moving to revoke it.

Castro declined to speak with Eyewitness News.

The Office of Children and Family Services issued the following statement:

"Chella's Childcare, Inc. has been licensed since December of 2016. After being made aware of this incident, OCFS 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 conducting our own investigation."

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