Christian Opportunity Center (COC) opened its doors in 1969 to serve five children with disabilities. COC leased space before constructing its new school building in 1975 near the north corner of Pella, Iowa, and enrollment peaked in 1976 with 43 students.
Recognizing the need for adult vocational services, COC began serving adults in 1974 and built a workshop in 1979 north of its school building. In 1981, two 15-person residences opened east of the school and workshop. COC built a third residence in 1984, which provided minimal support to residents with good daily living skills.
In keeping with the national trend to integrate children with disabilities, the special education program moved from COC to Pella Christian Grade School in 1987 and to Pella Christian High School in 1990. COC continues to support these students.
In 1987, the Community Living Arrangement program began providing follow-along support to Marion County residents. Throughout the next decade, COC continued to expand residential services, developing five-person residences in Pella and Des Moines, Iowa, eight-person residences in Pella and Indianola for people with severe disabilities, and single-family homes in Pella.
When national trends started moving away from sheltered workshops in 1987, COC helped develop a community-based employment program in Pella. Two years later, COC expanded its services to Oskaloosa, providing both facility-based and community-based employment. Facility-based employment and community-based employment were also added in Indianola. COC maintained facility-based employment program for 44 years. In 2018 fully COC closed the program due to state and federal regulations that are encouraging persons with disabilities to be fully integrated into community employment.
COC is proud of its commitment to quality. COC has received 12 consecutive three-year accreditations from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) beginning in 1982.