Spence Children’s Cottage

A home-like, welcoming service where your child can thrive

Spence Children’s Cottage is a home-like 25 place early childhood centre. It has a proud history as a community-focused service and was established with the help of the Women’s Electoral Lobby in 1974. We provide education and care for children age six weeks to five years.

Our flexible learning environments and mixed-age practices are inspired by leading international early childhood education research and innovation. We design our routines and curriculum with consideration to family practices at home, supporting each child’s routine and needs throughout the day. 

Our program has a strong child-led focus. Children attending Spence Cottage are actively involved in creating their learning journey based on their strengths and interests.

Our professional educators are committed to forming strong and meaningful bonds and interactions with each child and family at Spence Cottage.

When you use any of our YWCA Canberra children’s services programs, you help to support our community activities such as our housing programs, community development, youth engagement, and education to prevent domestic and family violence.

Learn more about what we provide and how fees are paid. To enrol, please complete the YWCA Canberra Spence Children’s Cottage Child Care Centre 2024 Enrolment Form.


We are a small, multi-cultural team, with educators from Australia and around the world.

Our educators have extensive experience in the sector, with most having been at Spence Children’s Cottage for more than five years, and some over 15 years.

All of our educators are passionate about forming and maintaining professional, trusting and caring relationships with each other, our children and our families.

Director: Donna Minns

With a diverse background in early childhood education and care (ECEC) across Queensland, Singapore, South Australia, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, Donna brings a wealth of ideas and experiences to Spence service. Passionate about providing respectful, empathetic, and high-quality care for children, Donna is dedicated to fostering an environment that allows children to be children, with the freedom to engage in active play and learning. Believing in the importance of empowering children to shape their own futures, Donna values giving children the time, space, and opportunity to fully explore their world and make their voices heard.

We are a home-like, 25 place service with two indoor play spaces and a large outdoor play space. Our outdoor area is overhung by a beautiful flowering tree, providing a gorgeous place to play nestled in the suburb.

We spend a lot of time in the garden, especially with our garden bed and lots of DIY pots in the Cottage for children to experience planting. We have a focus on sustainability in our practice and our learning environment.

The educational setup of our service provides opportunities for children to engage in structured mixed-aged learning experiences.

Mixed-age learning and play has significant benefits for children. It allows siblings to interact and gives children opportunities to play and learn from those outside their age group. Older children develop supporting and nurturing behaviours, while the younger ones learn social skills and language, and develop further confidence.

Our routines are designed to progress alongside your child, giving them choice and flexibility, creating happy and calm environments for them to learn, grow and thrive.

Our educators’ relationships with children promote a feeling of belonging to the Cottage family. We provide opportunities for children to have fun while learning and developing to their full potential.

Our programs provide opportunities to foster all aspects of children’s development and gives opportunities for open-ended learning. We support play-based learning, developing children’s skills by focusing on their interests as well as their needs.

We have been part of the Spence community since 1974 and feel strongly about including the community in our practice. Most of our educators have been at the Cottage for many years and have developed a true community with their families.

In 2022 YWCA Canberra’s Spence Children’s Cottage won one of the ACT’s Community Garden Grants to fund nine local projects.  

We received $2,228 for our Spence Community Garden, a little farm that we are growing fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers for children and families in Spence and nearby suburbs. 

A home-like, welcoming service where your child can thrive

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