Research & Biography

Research Projects

Julia R. Henly is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the SSA Doctoral Program in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She is a faculty affiliate of the University of Chicago Center for Human Potential and Public Policy, the University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, and the University of Michigan National Poverty Center. She serves on the advisory committee of SSA’s Employment Instability, Family Well-being, and Social Policy Network and is a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families' Child Care Policy Research Consortium.

Henly’s research focuses on the intersection of family poverty, low-wage employment, and public policy, especially child care and family policy. She is interested in families’ economic and caregiving strategies, with particular attention to how work conditions, public policies, and social networks operate to support and complicate poverty management and economic mobility.

Henly is the Principal Investigator of a multi-year child care partnership study (co-PIs Amy Claessens, Heather Sandstrom) that aims to develop an empirically-informed and practically-relevant knowledgebase of the program- and employment-related determinants of subsidy stability and child care continuity in Illinois and New York. Funded by USDHHS Administration for Children and Families, the study joins researchers at the University of Chicago and the Urban Institute with Illinois and New York state and local child care subsidy administrators. The study includes the collection and analysis of both telephone surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews of a random sample of child care subsidy program recipients and a linked longitudinal analysis of state child care subsidy program records. By analyzing quantitative and qualitative information on parent perceptions and experiences together with administrative program records, the empirical strategy aims to deepen understanding of the pathways that lead to stability as well as instability in child care subsidy use and child care arrangements.

Henly is also co-Principal Investigator (with S. Lambert) of the Work Scheduling Study, a mixed-method study examining the employment instability created by work scheduling practices in hourly jobs. One component of this project includes a randomized experimental study assessing a workplace intervention targeted at making work more predictable and flexible, with the goal of reducing work-family conflict and improving key employee and family outcomes such as worker performance, employee stress, and family practices. Other components of this project include nonexperimental analyses that combine company administrative records and payroll data, manager and employee survey data, and organizational documentation to examine questions such as i) whether management practices related to scheduling contribute to employee turnover and retention, ii) how schedule predictability and employee discretion over schedules contribute to work-life outcomes; and iii) how management staffing and scheduling practices were shaped by the 2008 recession.

In addition, Henly has investigated parental child care decision-making and child care search strategies, the demands that parents' jobs place on child care providers and the responses of providers to irregular and unpredictable parental work schedules. In other work, Henly has investigated questions related to the contribution of public assistance and informal social support to material hardship and family well-being. Henly's work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, such as Social Service Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Marriage and Family, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Social Work Research, Children and Youth Services Review, and Journal of Social Issues, as well as several edited book volumes.

Professor Henly received her B.A. in Psychology and Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.S.W. (Policy and Planning) and Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Psychology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Chicago, she was Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy and Social Research at the University of California, Los Angeles.