Our Program History

Orchard Place Campus

During the early 1960s, it became obvious there was no longer a need for an orphanage in Des Moines. Board members determined a residential facility where children with emotional, mental health and behavioral disorders could be treated was needed.

The orphanage closed in 1963 and the board sold their building in downtown Des Moines. They then purchased a six-acre fruit tree orchard on the city's south side and renamed the agency Orchard Place. Today, the Orchard Place Campus is the premier Psychiatric Medical Institute for children in Iowa, regularly caring for a capacity of 88 children ages 10-17.

Child Guidance Center

The Child Guidance Center traces its history back to the 1930s, when a Polk County Juvenile Court judge urged its creation due to the fact that many of the children appearing in his court displayed obvious symptoms of mental and emotional problems, left untreated because there were no facilities in the area to care for them.

The Des Moines Child Guidance Center first focused on helping just those children who appeared before the Juvenile Court, but soon recognized a need to expand its services to other Iowa kids. Before long, the Des Moines Child Guidance Center was treating hundreds of children with mental and behavioral health disorders on an outpatient basis. Its day treatment program was one of the first of its kind in the United States.

In the late 1990s, the Child Guidance Center merged with Orchard Place, and today it is the only state-accredited community mental health center for children in Iowa. The Child Guidance Center served more than 4,500 children and families last year, providing a wide range of child-focused, family-centered mental health treatment and prevention services across the state of Iowa.

PACE Center - Community Based Services

PACE Center began as an alternative school for teenagers in 1983. A collaborative effort between the Des Moines Public Schools, the Juvenile Courts, the Iowa Department of Human Services and Orchard Place, PACE Center was a program designed to help kids ages 12-17 who had experienced problems with school or the law. Its goal was to help each child complete his or her education while working to improve his or her opportunities in the job market and throughout life.

PACE Center serves close to 3,000 at-risk and delinquent youth and young adults in Iowa each year through a continuum of services that works to treat the child, strengthen the family, and promote self-sufficiency. PACE Center services are offered at a building located in downtown Des Moines, two gender-specific day schools and a School-Based Liaison program that maintains a presence in several Polk County schools.

PACE Center has evolved to provide youth and their families viable solutions to:

  • Academic deficiency
  • Delinquency
  • Inadequate social functioning
  • Substance Use
  • Truancy

Today, PACE Center is a community-based division of Orchard Place serving youth, young adults and families. In a collaborative effort through multiple community partnerships, PACE Center provides services to strengthen and promote self-sufficiency. Our goal is to empower youth, young adults and their families to make healthy and positive behavior choices through a prevention and intervention approach.

PACE Center offers a continuum of services including:

  • Community and school-based programs
  • Integrated care coordination
  • Substance use education