The Department of Pediatrics of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has provided medical evaluations of child victims of physical abuse since the late 1960's and sexual abuse evaluations since 1981. The result of this experience is a collaboration of UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in the form of the Center for Children at Risk, an integrated medical, social and psychological health care system for the whole family that has experienced child abuse. The Center for Children at Risk consists of two functional components, both of which incorporate health care, teaching, clinical research and community service. They are the Team for Children at Risk and the Family Treatment Program.
Dr. Jerry G. Jones, the Program Director, completed a pediatric residency, served a stint in the United States Air Force and was in private practice before joining the Department of Pediatrics at UAMS in 1978. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Jones was struck by the tragedy of children who suffered physical and sexual abuse. His deep concern manifested itself by raising awareness of other health care providers to the needs of these children at risk. By 1986, he had established the Team for Children at Risk to evaluate and treat abused children at ACH. His passion for their needs put him at the forefront of professionals dealing with this problem. In 1992, a group of concerned citizens, touched by his dedication and ministry to abused children, garnered financial assistance to create the Arkansas Children's House for identification, medical and psychosocial evaluation, and treatment of sexually abused children.
Dr. Jones came to see that abused children and their families suffer a special kind of emotional trauma. He understood it was imperative to address the long-term needs of abused children, as well as those in their families who are devastated and struggling to provide support for their children. The Family Treatment Program was the response to that vision. Dr. Karen Worley, a Ph.D. trained psychologist with over 20 years experience in working with abused children, was recruited to direct the Family Treatment Program the same year the Children's House opened its doors.
Karen Farst, M.D. and Jan Church, Ph.D. joined the program. Along with the rest of their staff, they have been outspoken advocates for physically and sexually abused children in Arkansas. Their expertise is much in demand by children's advocacy groups and lawmakers. They frequently are called to testify as expert witnesses in court. They have focused on the problems of child abuse and have made a difference. The hurting children of Arkansas have been beneficiaries of their concern and tireless energy. They have built an excellent model for meeting many of the needs of abused children.