The Maine Department of Health and Human Services offices on State Street in Augusta, shown in this December 2017 file photo. Credit: Darren Fishell / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine legislative committee has approved a host of changes to the state’s child welfare services ombudsman program.

The ombudsman program is designed to function as an independent connection between the public and the state’s child protection system. A bill before the Maine Legislature would make several changes to the program, including adding staffing and funding.

The changes would also seek to make sure the program provides input and recommendations to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Legislature, supporters said in a statement. The bill would also require the health department to give advance notice to the ombudsman of policy changes affecting child welfare services, supporters said.

The Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee voted in favor of the changes on Thursday. The proposal would need the approval of the full Maine Legislature.