December 18, 2017

Arkansas Children’s, UAMS Specialist Honored with National Award for Work to Prevent Child Abuse

LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Nov. 27, 2018) – The medical director of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Team for Children at Risk has received national recognition for her breakthrough efforts to prevent child abuse in the state and beyond.

Karen Farst, M.D., M.P.H., who also serves as the medical director of the Rebecca and Robert Rice Medical Clinic in the Clark Center for Safe & Healthy Children, was recently named the 2017 recipient of the Ray E. Helfer, MD, Award, a distinguished honor from the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She also serves as an associate professor of Pediatrics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine and holds the Jerry G. Jones Endowed Chair in Child Maltreatment at Arkansas Children’s.

The Hefler Award is given annually to a pediatrician who has demonstrated a contribution to preventing child abuse before it occurs, primarily through work with a state children’s trust or prevention fund.Karen Farst, M.D., M.P.H.

The first physician board certified in Child Abuse Pediatrics in the state of Arkansas, Dr. Farst now serves on the Child Abuse subboard of the American Board of Pediatrics. She has written many peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and has lectured across the country.

Dr. Farst holds several positions of national leadership, including as past president of the Board of Directors of the National Children’s Alliance, the association and accrediting body for the more than 800 Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country and abroad.

A major innovator for improving the prevention of child abuse and neglect in Arkansas, Dr. Farst developed an interconnected network of medical providers in the state’s Children’s Advocacy Centers that supports local professionals in providing the best care possible to sexually abused children.

This model is uniquely suited to making care available to the greatest number of children in this large, rural state. Optimizing care at the time abuse is discovered not only gives the child the best start to recovery, but also aids local multidisciplinary team professionals in preventing further abuse from occurring.

“We are grateful for Dr. Farst’s unyielding commitment to vulnerable children,” said Jay Deshpande, M.D., chief medical officer of Arkansas Children’s and a professor of Pediatrics at UAMS. “Her dedication has resulted in systematic change that has improved their lives tremendously. No one could be more deserving of this award.”

The award is named for the late Ray Helfer, MD, considered the “father” of children’s trust and prevention funds due to his concept that special funds could be used to ensure that our nation’s children grow up nurtured, safe and free from harm.

Dr. Helfer’s lifelong dedication to children serves as a model for all citizens. This award was established in his honor and was to be presented at the Alliance’s annual membership meeting held this month in Little Rock. The award is presented a second time at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only health system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 336-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 trauma center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally recognized transport service. It is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, neonatology, pulmonology and urology. A sister campus is under development in Northwest Arkansas and will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that corner of the state. Arkansas Children’s also blankets the state with outreach programs that include telemedicine, mobile health, and school-based health solutions. A private not-for-profit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


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