RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – DEC. 29, 2015 – Leroy Berrones-Soto, a sophomore social work major at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, has been appointed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to serve as a member of the newly formed Behavioral Health Advisory Committee.
Berrones-Soto said he spent five years of his childhood in foster care, and now he wants to be able to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. He hopes to one day work with Child Protective Services, so he can help youths who are where he once was.
He got word of his appointment on Nov. 23 from Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Chris Traylor.
Berrones-Soto will be representing youths and young adults who are struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.
“This is a new committee, so we’re still figuring it out,” he said of his upcoming duties. “It is mostly for advocacy with mental health and substance abuse. We’re going to be a bigger voice in Texas.”
The committee meets four times a year in Austin. The first meeting is set for Jan. 15.
Berrones-Soto is the only member on the committee from the Rio Grande Valley.
The Texas HHSC’s mission is to maintain and improve the health and human services system in Texas. It oversees operations and provides administrative oversight of Texas health and human services programs, and provides direct administration of some state programs.
“I feel honored, because I know that it is always a great honor to be able to speak for those who can’t,” Berrones-Soto said. “Foster care taught me to advocate for myself.”
The committee is being formed as a result of the Sunset Advisory Commission’s recommendation to have an advisory committee focused on a broader array of behavioral health services for the entire health and human services system, instead of multiple committees with a more narrow focus.
The Sunset Advisory Committee provides regular input and makes recommendations regarding mental health and substance abuse programs across the health and human service system.
“I am excited and just looking forward to what we will do for the committee in Texas,” Berrones-Soto said. “We get input and send recommendations to the state.”