CANTON, Ohio– The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is investigating an incident at All Around Children childcare and preschool in Canton after two children in its care were found inside a grocery store Tuesday.
Anastasia Byrd says she came to pick up her children just before 6 p.m. when she could not find her son Elijah, 4. She said she noticed the short, white picket fence gate was ajar and staff did not realize her son was missing prior to her arrival.
“By that time, I screamed, ‘Where is my son?'” Byrd said.
According to Byrd, a shopper at a nearby Aldi said her son was inside the store. Canton police said they are investigating how two children wandered off and into the store. Management at All Around Children would not comment on the incident.
“So of course, I’m panicking because he’s walking across, it’s like a street between there, he could have got hit, anything could have happened,” said Byrd.
“So immediately I went over to Aldi grocery store and the manager was back there with him and then to find out, not only was my son missing, it was another son. Somebody’s else son was over there. They had no clue it was two kids missing.”
Elijah said he wanted to go shopping for his friends and got out through a gate. His mother said he was unaccounted for between 15 to 20 minutes.
A Stark County Job and Family Services official said they only comment on open legal investigations.
All Around Children released the following statement to FOX 8 News:
We are reviewing camera footage and actively investigating this incident with the help of law enforcement. We have been in close communication with our licensing agency as well as the police. I can confirm that the children were not harmed and that they were safely reunited with their families. The employee responsible for these children was removed from the premises and is no longer employed at our company. Within our company as a whole, we are reviewing all measures put in place to keep our students safe, including but not limited to: taller and more secure playground fencing, extra supervision, and revision of all supervision training given to our teachers.
“He’s not going back, he’s not, he’s not. I wouldn’t send my dog back there and do you see a dog running around here,” Byrd said.