My recommendation is that you put a start, not ending date in your contract. "The starting date for the care of Sally Jones will be June 4, 2012." If you put an ending date in your contract, you run the risk that they parent won't sign a new contract in time and your old contract will be unenforceable.
A family child care contract is primarily useful as a communication tool. Having your parents re-sign your contract each year can be a good idea if you use the opportunity to review what is in the contract to make sure everyone understands what is expected of them.
If you are not changing any of the language of your contract, you can have a brief discussion with parents to go over any area of concern or remind them of what you have agreed to. By resigning the same contract you are communicating the importance of your agreement. If you want, you can reprint the entire contract for new signatures by both you and the parents.
However, if there is any change in your contract, it must be made in writing, and the parents and you must sign the change or else it is not enforceable.
Let's say you raised your fees last January and the parent has paid the higher fees since then, but you didn’t put the higher rate in a newly signed contract. If the parent leaves without giving you the proper notice under your contract, you won’t be able to enforce your higher rate.
Three ways to change your contract
First: strike out old language and hand write in new language. You and the parent should put your intial and date next to the change. Second: write out an addendum to the contract, sign and date it, and attach it to the old contract. Third: make the change and print out a new contract to be signed.
Image credit: ydr.com
For more information about contracts, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.