Episode 79

#79. Churches Can Keep NYC Kids Out of Foster Care

Mark Atkinson serves as the Area Director for Care Portal in NYC which helps churches serve vulnerable children and families in their own communities. Young people who've been in foster care are at high risk of being trafficked, incarcerated, homeless and having their own children go into foster care. Plus, only 8% are likely to graduate from high school in four years.

Hear how you can use CarePortal to disrupt the broken foster care cycle and support healthy loving families.


  • How the foster care system feeds cycles of incarceration, homelessness and generational foster care
  • How keeping children out of the foster care system is an attainable goal for churches
  • How CarePortal works with churches, individuals, businesses and social service agencies


Mark simply describes himself as a man who, “Loves God and Loves People”. After struggling, with suicidal thoughts, depression, and a lack of purpose in life, Mark came to know God at the age of 15. Since that day he has been on a journey to get to know God in a genuine way, and point other people to the only one who can give true purpose and fulfillment to our lives.

Mark was called to preaching shortly after beginning his walk with God when he preached his first message during a youth-led service at his home church, the Church of God of East New York, in Brooklyn, New York under the leadership of Rev. Clifton McDowell, Sr. Shortly after his message he knew this was what God had called him to do.

Mark pursued his bachelor’s in Rhetorical Studies and Sociology at Hofstra University. During his time there, Mark had the privilege of holding various leadership positions, including, President of Hofstra’s chapter of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Discovery Leader, Hofstra University’s Stand-Out Student, Student Government Senator, Chair of the Student Government Appropriations Committee, and Hofstra University Student Government President.

Afterward, he soon accepted a position as a Teacher in Residence at Achievement First Brownsville Middle School and worked to be promoted to Lead 8th Grade History Teacher within half a year. During his time at AFBRMS, he has served as Grade Level Chair, Resident Advisor, Mentor Teacher, and Dean of History Curriculum and Instruction. During his tenure as a teacher, Mark’s students showed both the highest growth and absolute achievement results of all students across the Achievement First Network in 8th Grade U.S. History. During his last year, he received the title of Distinguished and Exemplary Teacher and Leader from the Achievement First Network.

After transitioning out of the education sector, Mark served as the Neighborhoods Director for LEAD.NYC where he managed the 10 Zip Codes Project which seeks to make systemic change in the 10 most struggling communities in the New York Metro Area.

Mark currently serves as Area Director for CarePortal which is a connecting platform that drives action for kids and families in crisis which seeks to mitigate the foster care crisis nationally. He also loves serving as an Associate Minister at the Church of God of East New York under the leadership of our Presiding Elder. Mark also serves on the Advisory Board for the National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators (NFBLME) as their Executive-In-Residence and he also sits on the Board of Directors for the nonprofits “New Life of NYC” and “We Rise 365.”

His three goals in life are to preach, teach, and influence government legislation to see individuals, families, and cities be completely whole and filled with Kingdom Justice. “I just want to be known as a small man with a Huge God.”




00:34 - Topic: Supporting Families and Keeping Kids out of the Foster Care System

01:58 - Family, Love, Security and Education

03:18 - What is CarePortal?

03:45 - Cycles of Homelessness, Incarceration and Human Trafficking

05:00 - Why are Kids Going Into Foster Care?

05:29 - One Child for 10 Church Goers

06:41 - How Does CarePortal Work?

07:39 - Decriminalizing Poverty in the Foster Care System

09:12 - Churches Delivering Care

12:05 - Incoming Requests to Help Families

13:22 - Not Transactional but Creating Meaningful Connections

15:04 - The Importance of Keeping Families Together

16:19 - Disrupting Generational Cycles of Foster Care

17:25 - 1. Supporting Healthy Families

17:42 - 2. Poverty and Needed Support

18:17 - 3. Trauma in Separating Families

18:52 - Starting Point -- Churches Getting Involved with Heart and Training

20:34 - Individuals Getting Involved as Community Responders

21:58 - Current Need -- More Churches and Social Service Agencies

22:34 - Businesses Getting Involved as Community Champions

23:11 - Accessing CarePortal across the United States

25:26 - Helping Our Kids, Our Families and Our Communities

28:37 - Connecting with Mark Atkinson and other CarePortal networks

30:01 - Joke: Out of this World


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