Reps. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) and Tony McCombie (R-Sterling) issued a statement following the introduction of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly that would increase penalties for those who commit crimes against Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employees.

The new legislation was introduced just days after DCFS employee Deidre Silas was stabbed to death during a home visit in Thayer, Illinois. A 32-year-old man has since been arrested for this crime, WQAD reports. 

In a Facebook post Jan. 7, Caulkins said he is thankful to his colleagues for their support in this legislation, stating some things transcend politics and he is happy to support the legislation. 

“Representative Tony McCombie (R-71st District) and I have been pushing legislation since 2018 to protect our workers at DCFS. Finally, the Democrats in Springfield joined us and saw the need to act,” Caulkins wrote in his post.

The post featured the joint statement issued by Caulkins and McCombie, stating the caucus has been fighting for this legislation since the murder of DCFS social worker Pam Knight in 2018.

“This bill is the first step to provide justice for those that serve to protect the most vulnerable amongst us," Caulkins and McCombie wrote in their statement. "We grieve for the friends and family of Pam Knight and Deidre Silas and pray that we will work together for meaningful change within the department to better protect our front line."

The legislation, known as the Knight-Silas bill, pushes to give DCFS workers the same level of protection as firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and private security employees, according to a report by WIFR. 

“Our DCFS workers dedicate their careers to our most vulnerable  children, living in pursuit of the belief that every child should have a safe place to call home,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker told WIFR. “I’m working with the General Assembly to enhance the penalties for adults who harm DCFS workers to align with the protections for other first responders – in  honor of Deidre Silas, in honor of Pam Knight, in honor of all our DCFS  employees, and in honor of all who live in service to others.”

Under the bill, those who harm a DCFS employee could be charged with a Class 1 Felony for their actions.