Our Program History
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 103 children ages 10-17.
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 Juvenile 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 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 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 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 has evolved to provide youth and their families viable solutions to:
- Academic deficiency
- Substance Use
- Inadequate social functioning
Today, PACE is a community-based division of Orchard Place serving youth, young adults and families. In a collaborative effort through multiple community partnerships, PACE 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 offers a continuum of services including:
- Alternative education
- Community and school-based programs
- Family counseling
- Substance use education
The Orchard Place/Integrated Health Program division provides care coordination and case management services to Medicaid-eligible youth with a serious emotional trauma. This new service is possible through the federal Affordable Care Act legislation, which recognized that children with mental health needs don't necessarily access the services that are available to them because our health care systems are fragmented and complex.
The Orchard Place Integrated Health Program helps families better understand and access services that are available to help their children obtain optimum mental and physical health.
More than 1,450 children in Iowa are currently being served in Orchard Place's Integrated Health Program this year.