DeLand day care closed amid food stamp fraud allegations

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DeLAND, Fla. —

Channel 9 has found out what prompted a DeLand day care to abruptly shut down over the weekend.

WFTV's Kenneth Craig found the owner of Playskool Day Care shut down Monday stemming from accusations they abused the state's food stamp program.

The fraud accusations are in court documents obtained by Channel 9 on Wednesday. In them, the owner, Chelsea Romero, is accused of allowing somebody to pay for day care with food stamps, and that she used those foods stamps to buy $200 worth of items for inside the day care.

Furious parents called police earlier this week weekend after witnessing the owner packing up the day care and learning after the holiday weekend that it had closed.

Police said the closure is a civil matter, but Romero was already under investigation months ago because of the alleged food stamp fraud.

The ongoing investigation led the Early Learning Coalition to cancel Romero's state and federal funding for public assistance programs at the day care this summer.

Romero's attorney said the allegations are unfounded. But without that funding and the children at the day care, he said Romero had no choice but to shut down.

Romero and her attorney are currently fighting the Early Learning Coalitions' ruling.

Romero's attorney told Channel 9 the investigation into the fraud has since been closed, but officials with the Early Learning Coalition said that's not the case, and they're still looking into those claims.

Christopher T. Byrd, Romero's attorney, released the following statement: "The allegations are unfounded and any investigations concerning those allegations have been closed by the appropriate state authorities. Children’s Playskool is currently litigating the ELC’s unilateral refusal to renew the contracts based upon these false allegations."