Rep. McCombie, House & Senate GOP Members Call For DCFS Worker Protections

Springfield, IL –State Representative Tony McCombie stood with Republican lawmakers from the House and Senate today, along with the husband and daughter of slain DCFS worker Pam Knight, to demand a Senate vote on legislation that would provide important protections to DCFS workers.

“Today, we are calling for the Senate to give a hearing and a vote on HB 1482, and I am asking Governor JB Pritzker to support this common sense legislation,” said McCombie, the Chief House Sponsor of the bill. “Now is the time to close the loophole that currently excludes DCFS and Adult Protective Service Workers from life-saving protections.”

HB 1482, filed in response to the brutal beating and subsequent death of DCFS worker Pam Knight, would provide DCFS and Adult Protective Service employees with the same protections against assault as are given to teachers, police/fire, and other emergency responders who protect those in harm’s way.

“As we all know, DCFS is struggling. Caseworkers are overburdened and the outcomes for our children have too often been tragic. While we are aware of the recent issues faced by DCFS, I want to make sure we don’t forget about the past,” said McCombie. “Less than two years ago, we mourned another horrible loss for DCFS when case worker Pam Knight was brutally attacked by the father of a two-year-old boy she was advocating for in Chadwick, Illinois. DCFS caseworkers are the ones who are going into these homes, putting their lives at risk, in order to save children from dangerous situations. Many times their protective efforts are obstructed by the child’s parents.”   

After his wife’s death, Don Knight has made it his mission to advocate for the safety of DCFS caseworkers.

“Send a message to child welfare workers – their lives matter,” said Don Knight. “Their safety matters. While I will never get my wife back, it has become my mission to improve DCFS processes and protect DCFS workers so this never happens again.”

HB 1482 is sponsored by Sen. Brian Stewart (Freeport) in the Senate, and the bill is currently stalled in the Assignments committee with half a dozen bipartisan co-sponsors.

“DCFS investigators serve as protectors of our most vulnerable citizens, children living in troubled domestic environments,” said Sen. Brian Stewart. “The job of DCFS investigators is difficult, thankless and dangerous. Some did not fully understand how dangerous until September 29, 2017 when DCFS investigator Pam Knight of Sterling was assaulted while taking a two-year-old child into protective custody. Tragically, Mrs. Knight passed away from her injuries on February 8, 2018, more than four months after being assaulted. Right now, police officers, firefighters and other peace officers are protected by the law. DCFS investigators should have the same protections. I am proud to sponsor this bill, and other like it, in recent years.”

State Senator Neil Anderson also sponsored the legislation.

“What happened to Pam Knight should never happen to anyone, especially not someone who has dedicated their career to protecting the children of this state,” said State Senator Neil Anderson. “This legislation ensures that those who commit violence against social workers face the same penalties they would if they attacked a police officer or a teacher. Social workers, like Pam, are the true definition of public servants, and they deserve justice for these heinous acts.”