ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Deidre Silas, a case worker with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, was checking on children in a home in Thayer this week when she was stabbed to death.

The brutal attack highlighted the dangers associated with pursuing a job in the field of child protection, according to Jillisa Bondurant, the program director for Winnebago County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

Bondurant says the general mental toll of abuse and neglect experienced by the volunteers for her organization can add up, but she added that many still say the benefits far outweigh the risks.

“It’s still an intense situation, especially when a child is removed, or at risk of being removed,” she said. “That’s a traumatic situation on both parts, so we do focus a section on safety and making sure our volunteers prioritize safety first.”

Volunteers for CASA go through 35 hours of training, covering different facets of the court and legal system, and also what potential situations they could encounter.

“We go through mock classes and we talk about various situations. We talk about everything from checking what we do at the door, and really investing and building that rapport with the family,” she said.

Despite challenges, Bondurant says volunteers say it is worth it, to follow the cases through from beginning to end.

“Even something as little as, we found out the child needs glasses,” she said. “Last week, we had a child connected back to school. There was some barrier with school, where she was out of school for five months, but now, she’ll be going back to school.”

CASA eventually helps children be safely reunited with their families.

“When we can get children to also return home, that whatever that missing piece was, or however we could have supported the parents, to get that child home, that’s also a success story,” Bondurant said.

CASA currently has 114 volunteers, serving 230 children, and are always accepting new volunteers to help out.