JM DT SF 010722In response to the tragic deaths of two DCFS caseworks in recent years, a new measure spearheaded by members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus will increase penalties for people who commit crimes against Illinois Department of Children and Family Services employees.

“Each day, social workers, caseworkers and DCFS employees put their lives on the line to protect our state’s most vulnerable youth. These children need a guardian angel in their lives to make sure they’re being kept out of danger – and that guardian angel is often a compassionate DCFS employee,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest). “Yet, without greater protections and a more complete workforce, DCFS employees will continue to be put in helpless deadly situations. Tragedies against employees whose main goal is to help our at-risk youth must come to an end – and I am hopeful this legislation is the start.”

Currently, people who commit physical crimes against a DCFS employee are charged with aggravated battery if they cause great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, or if the battery occurred publicly. Aggravated battery in those circumstances is a Class 3 felony.

“I will continue to fight to ensure that our kids in child welfare system and the workers responsible for their welfare are kept out of harm’s way,” said State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).

Under the proposed legislation, DCFS employees would be granted the same protections as police, firemen, private security employees, correctional officers and community policing volunteers. A person over the age of 21 who causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to a DCFS employee would be charged with a Class 1 felony.

“The legislation we’re proposing sends a clear message – acts of violence against social workers will not be tolerated in our state,” said State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “We all deserve to work in peace, freedom and under safe circumstances, and I am committed to protecting those who work in this field.”

Visit the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services website for more information.