LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Nov. 27, 2017) – 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, MD, MPH, 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.

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, MD, 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.

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children's, Inc. is the only healthcare system in the state solely dedicated to caring for Arkansas' 710,000 children, giving the organization a unique ability to shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas and transform the health of children throughout the region. The private, non-profit organization includes two pediatric hospitals, a pediatric research institute and USDA nutrition center, a philanthropic foundation, a nursery alliance, statewide clinics, and many education and outreach programs.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is a 336-bed, Magnet-recognized facility in Little Rock operating the state’s only Level I pediatric trauma center; the state's only burn center; the state's only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit; the state's only pediatric intensive care unit; the state’s only pediatric surgery program with Level 1 verification from the American College of Surgeons; and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Additionally, ACH is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in five pediatric subspecialties (2019-2020): Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Pulmonology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW), the first and only pediatric hospital in the Northwest Arkansas region, opened in Springdale in early 2018. ACNW operates a 24-bed inpatient unit; a surgical unit with five operating rooms; outpatient clinics offering over 20 subspecialties; diagnostic services; imaging capabilities; occupational therapy services; and Northwest Arkansas' only pediatric emergency department, equipped with 30 exam rooms. Generous philanthropic and volunteer engagement has sustained Arkansas Children's since it began as an orphanage in 1912, and today ensures the system can fundamentally transform the health of children in Arkansas and beyond. To learn more, visit

About UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five 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, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.