CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — A federal district judge in West Virginia has certified class-action status for a lawsuit filed on behalf of the approximately 6,100 children in the state’s foster care system.

The plaintiffs allege children are referred to the foster care system in West Virginia at a rate more than one-and-a-half times the national average, and that those children are often placed out-of-state or isolated in inadequate facilities.

The group also claims that the foster system is overloaded and understaffed and that children who age out of the system aren’t prepared for life after foster care.

A national nonprofit advocacy group called A Better Childhood is acting as counsel for the children along with the law firm of Shaffer and Shaffer and the nonprofit Disability Rights of West Virginia.

“This is a careful, thoughtful decision, which will allow us to fully represent all these children and finally prove that the state’s foster care system exposes children to the unreasonable risk of serious harm,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, lead plaintiff and Executive Director of A Better Childhood.

You can read the judge’s full decision here.