Father of toddler missing from KinderCare, found playing near Rt15 off-ramp speaks out

New Haven

MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The father of a toddler found playing near a Wilbur Cross off-ramp after wandering out of his Milford KinderCare is speaking to News 8. Jay Paragua’s 3-year-old son was found by a passing driver. That driver tells News 8 that when she alerted daycare staff, they had no idea the child had been missing.

Now, DCF, the Office of Early Childhood, and Milford Police are investigating.

“When they recorded the attendance, they recorded that he was there. But he wasn’t,” said Paragua, who claims KinderCare staff played down the seriousness of the incident until the Good Samaritan who found his son posted a now-viral video showing him playing by the roadway.

“Scary. Scary for any parent to think about this situation. Your kid is going to a daycare and not being looked at or not being taken care of,” said Paragua, “I don’t want that to happen to any parent.”

He fears what may have happened if his son was hit by a car, or worse.

“Thank God for this lady that was videotaping, [she] saw him and came back,” said Paragua, ”Any other person could take the kid away. who knows? It’s crazy.”

“That close to such a busy street, exit to the parkway, your main concern is, you don’t want this to happen again,” said Milford Police spokesperson Michael DeVito.

DeVito called the video very concerning, and says Milford Police notified DCF of the incident. Their own detectives are also investigating.

“We should be thankful it wasn’t a pedophile who found the child,” said a parent stopping to pick up her child from the KinderCare Thursday afternoon.

She says KinderCare sent an email to families, which included much of what they told News 8 when we first aired the story Wednesday night:

We’re grateful the child was unhurt and have taken immediate steps to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. This morning we installed guards on all of the windows in our center to prevent the windows from opening more than a few inches. We’re also working with our agency partners at DCF and licensing, and we’ll follow any additional guidance they offer.

On Thursday, a facilities van was seen in the daycare’s parking lot, and two women could be seen inspecting the windows.

Our reporter attempted to speak to the onsite staff or franchise management.

“Do you have any idea why the baby, why the child was allowed to wander?” News 8 asked staff at the facility.

Our crew was directed to a corporate public relations phone number. The company has not returned our request for an updated comment on the ongoing state and police investigations, as well as on past violations cited by the state at that facility.

In 2019, the Wellington Road KinderCare was cited for 10 violations during an unannounced visit by state licensing inspectors. The violations included health and safety protocols, and later that year a teacher was suspended for leaving a child unattended. 

State records show those violations were found to be resolved during follow up inspections. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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