At least 23 children have died in Texas’ long-term foster care system since summer 2019, according to a new report by court-appointed monitors for state agencies in charge of the system.

Six of the children died as a result of either neglect or abuse by caregivers. Another is suspected to have died from abuse. Five more deaths are also still under investigation.

“It’s the safety of these children that’s at stake here,” U.S. District Judge Janis Jack said during a federal court hearing following the release of the report. “That’s the most important thing we have … and I expect Texas to live up to its duties to keep these children safe.”

During the hearing, which lasted all day May 5 and part of May 6, Janis acknowledged that there has been progress but highlighted several areas that continue to endanger children.

Jack grilled several state and provider officials about placement facilities reopening under different names — a phenomenon that the monitors surfaced last year. According to the report, several operations with histories of abuse, safety and neglect violations closed and reopened under a new name to escape citations from the state.

The report also said three contractors responsible for finding living arrangements, including foster homes, for children in state care placed children in unlicensed facilities.

“We are glad to see the areas in which the state is improving,” Marcia Lowry, executive director of A Better Childhood, a national nonprofit child welfare advocacy organization, and a co-counsel in the lawsuit, said in a May 4 press release. “However, we are very troubled that almost two years after the court’s remedial orders went into effect, children are being placed in unlicensed placements and being subjected to many dangerous, damaging conditions.”

Read the full article about foster children in Texas by Reese Oxner at The 74.