SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) is renewing his calls for felony penalties for criminals convicted of assaulting state child welfare workers after a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) worker from Springfield was killed on the job Jan. 4, nearly four years after another DCFS worker from Dixon died Feb. 8, 2018, as a result of injuries from being assaulted on the job.
“Like paramedics and other first responders, DCFS workers often face uncertain situations in which the risks are many, as there is often anger directed at them for doing their jobs. Many DCFS workers have reported increased violence and potentially dangerous situations, even when individuals come to their offices,” Stewart said. “As I have for the past four years, I am once again sponsoring legislation that would create an aggravated sentencing factor for persons convicted of knowingly causing DCFS employees great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement.”
According to recent Springfield media reports, Deidre Silas, a DCFS child protection specialist, was stabbed to death while performing a home visit in the Sangamon County community of Thayer on Jan. 4. Stewart said the case is very similar to the case of Pamela Knight of Dixon, a DCFS child welfare employee who was severely beaten Sept. 29, 2017, while picking up a child in Milledgeville. Knight died Feb. 8, 2018, as a result of her injuries.
Stewart says he does not understand why legislation he has sponsored during his tenure as a state lawmaker to protect DCFS workers – as well as similar measures sponsored by other Republican lawmakers – have routinely been assigned to Senate Subcommittees, a move sometimes used by opponents to shelve the issue, or not allow the legislation to be called for public discussion or votes.