Illinois State Sen. Turner champions measure to protect families of DCFS workers killed in the line of duty

DEIDRE SILAS, an investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and member of AFSCME Local 805, was murdered while responding to a report of children in danger in the town of Thayer, south of Springfield on Jan. 4.

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Springfield, IL – Following the death of AFSCME Local 805 member Deidre Silas, a Department of Children and Family Services worker killed during a home visit on Jan. 4, State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) has introduced legislation to assist the families of Illinois social workers killed in the line of duty.

Silas, 36, an investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), was conducting a welfare check on one of six children living in a home in Thayer, Ill., 23 miles south of Springfield, when she was stabbed, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said.

Benjamin Reed, 32, one of several adults living in the home, has been charged with of first-degree murder and aggravated battery in Silas’s death.

“In response to the fatal stabbing of Deidre Silas, we must ensure the families of those who serve our most vulnerable populations are cared for,” Turner said. “Deidre died as a dedicated public servant for our community, and this is the least we can do to honor her commitment to our state.”

Under the Public Safety and Police Benefits Act, if a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty, his or her spouse and children under the age of 18 are eligible to receive health insurance benefits.

Turner’s bill, SB 3197, will expand upon that to include DCFS workers and provide benefits to the survivors of social workers killed in the line of duty.

The legislation will be retroactive for one year to ensure the Silas’s family receives benefits from the state.

“We must protect people like Deidre Silas,” Turner said. “I will continue to push for commonsense reforms to ensure our brave civil servants and their families are protected in the event of a future tragedy.”

SB 3197 passed the Senate State Government Committee on Feb. 2.



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