JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A day care facility is out of business after a toddler was found wandering in the middle of the road.
In a story ABC 17 News first reported Monday night, a 23-month-old child left the Kids Unlimited property for approximately 20 minutes on June 13 without the day care's knowledge.
"It scared me; you know your heart just drops," said Claudia Boyce, the woman who found the child. "Walking up the middle of the street, he had one shoe on and one shoe off."
The day care is located off Fairgrounds Road, across Highway 50 from the Capital Mall in Jefferson City.
According to records, Jefferson City police were called to the scene when a passerby returned the child to the day care. The day care staff initially stated they were not missing any children, but after a head count, they realized they were indeed missing one child.
ABC 17 News learned this isn't the first time it's happened at the day care.
There are conflicting reports in state documents: According to day care staff, they told investigators they realized the child was missing at 9:05 a.m. when another child was dropped off. However, police did not receive a call from the passerby until 9:24 a.m. That means staff were aware a child was missing and failed to call authorities for nearly 20 minutes.
"They weren't looking for anyone when I went up there, they didn't seem to be," said Boyce. "One lady was on her cell phone and the other one was standing at the top of the playground just looking out at the kids."
It gets even worse -- the same situation happened twice. The state's report said the same child opened the same gate on June 17. The second time, the toddler tried to head toward Fairgrounds Road, but day care staff were able to stop him.
Last Thursday, the state shut down Kids Unlimited and suspended its license.
The owners of the day care appealed the decision and a hearing was held Tuesday. No ruling has been made, and the suspension will stay in place until a ruling occurs.
If Kids Unlimited appeals the revocation, the Department of Health and Senior Services will have 90 days to file a complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission. Once the commission receives a complaint, it will hold a hearing on whether the Department has cause to discipline Kids Unlimited's license.
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