Julia Henly, a female-presenting person, smiles towards the camera in a library.

Julia R Henly, PhD

Professor; Deputy Dean for Research and Faculty Development; Co-Director, Employment Instability, Family Well-being, and Social Policy Network; Principal Investigator, Illinois/New York Child Care Research Partnership Study

969 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Office Location: E-16; WSSC 255

Areas of Expertise
Child Care
Early Education
Employment Instability
Low-income Families
Poverty and Welfare Policy
Work and Family Policies
UChicago Affiliations
Center for Human Potential and Public Policy

Henly’s scholarship advances understanding of the economic and caregiving strategies of low-income families, with particular attention to the prevalence and consequences of volatile and unpredictable work schedules, the impact of parental work schedules on children's care arrangements, and how well child care subsidies and other public benefits serve low-income families. She is currently the principal investigator of a multi-year, mixed-methods study in Illinois and New York that examines how child care subsidy program parameters, provider characteristics and employment circumstances contribute to (in)stability in child care subsidy use; and in turn, how patterns of subsidy use shape low-income families’ access to high quality and stable subsidized arrangements. Henly is also co-PI of a qualitative study in two Chicago neighborhoods that investigates how child care density contributes to parental child care decision making and co-PI of a participatory action research project in Bridgeport CT that investigates how parental labor market experiences impact their children's daily experiences, including opportunities for participation in early education. Her research on precarious employment, joint with Susan Lambert, includes several survey, field experimental, and qualitative studies of the prevalence and consequences of unpredictable and variable work schedules on worker and family outcomes, with particular focus on low-wage, hourly employment contexts. 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 scholarship has received generous funding from federal government agencies and private foundations and has been published in numerous 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.

Current Research Projects 

  • Equity-Focused Policy Research: Building Evidence on Access to Early Care & Education for Low-Income Families (Child Care Equity Study, CCES). Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Co-Principal Investigators Julia Henly and David Alexander.
  • Child Care Providers Responding to COVID-19. Supplemental study of the Child Care Equity Study.  With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Co-Principal Investigators Julia Henly and David Alexander.
  • Fulfilling the promise of early education and care:  Making child care a true Two-Gen support. Urban Institute’s Low Income Working Families Initiative, funded by Annie E. Casey Foundation. With Gina Adams.
  • How Child Care and Early Education Supply in Chicago Shapes Latino Parents' Child Care Decisions. University of Chicago and Chapin Hall Joint Research Award. With Marci Ybarra, Julie Spielberger, Erin Rapoport, & Aida Pacheco
  • Determinants of Subsidy Stability and Child Care Continuity in Illinois and New York. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Research Partnership Grant. Grant Nos. 90YE0133 & 90YE0151-01-00.
  • The Impact of Precarious Work Schedules on Early Childhood Health. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. With Michele Kilpatrick & Julio López Varona
  • Precarious Work Schedules Among Early Career Adults. Russell Sage Foundation. With Susan Lambert
Professors Yoonsun Choi and Waldo E. Johnson, Jr. are inducted as 2023 fellows by the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW)
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University and Chapin Hall Announce 2017-18 Joint Research Fund Awards
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University and Chapin Hall Announce 2017-18 Joint Research Fund Awards
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New research examines how many low-wage workers struggle to get benefits
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Professors Susan J. Lambert and Julia Henly awarded a WorkRise grant
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William Pollak Award for Excellence in Teaching
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Award For Excellence in Doctoral Student Mentoring at Crown Family School
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  • Pilarz, A.R., Sandstrom, H., Henly, J.R. (2022). Understanding Child Care Instability Among Low-Income, Subsidized Families. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences.

  • Henly, J.R., Lambert, S.J., & Dresser, L.J. (2021). The New Realities of Working-Class Jobs Since the Great Recession: Innovations in Employment Regulation, Social Policy, and Worker Organization.  What has happened to the American Working Class since the Great Recession? (2009-2019). ANNALS of The American Academy of Political and Social Science.

  • Kim, J., & Henly, J. R. (2021). Dynamics of child care subsidy use and material hardship. Children and Youth Services Review. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from 

  • Adams, G. & Henly, J. R. (2020) “Child Care Subsidies: Supporting Work And Child Development For Healthy Families, " Health Affairs Health Policy Brief, April 12, 2020.DOI: 10.1377/hpb20200327.116465
  • Henly, J.R. (2020). Centrality of employment policies for individual and community health. American Journal of Public Health, 110(4), 433-435.

  • Hong, Y.S. & Henly, J.R. (2020). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and School Readiness Skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 114, early access available online

  • Lambert, S.J., Henly, J.R., Fugiel, P., Choper, J. (Revise and Resubmit). The magnitude and meaning of work hour volatility among early-career employees in the US. Monthly Labor Review.

  • Kim, J.S., Henly, J.R., Golden, L., & Lambert, S. (2019). Workplace Flexibility and Worker Wellbeing by Gender. Journal of Marriage and Family. Online available Dec. 2019: DOI:10.1111jomf.12633.

  • Lambert, S.J., Henly, J.R., & Kim, J. (2019). Precarious work schedules as a source of economic insecurity and institutional distrust. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 5(4): 218-57.

  • Lambert, S.J., Henly, J.R., Schoeny, M., & Jarpe, M. (2019). Increasing Schedule Predictability in Hourly Jobs: Results from a Randomized Experiment in a US Retail Firm. Work and Occupations, 46(2):176-226.

  • McCrate, E., Lambert, S.J., & Henly, J.R. (2019). Competing for hours: Unstable work schedules and underemployment among hourly workers in Canada. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 43(5), 1287–1314.

  • Barnes, C. & Henly, J.R. (2018). They are underpaid and understaffed”: How clients interpret encounters with street-level bureaucrats. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 28(2): 165-181.
  • Reza, H. & Henly, J.R. (2018). Health crises, social support, and caregiving practices among street children in Bangladesh. Children and Youth Services Review, 88: 229-240.
  • Henly, J.R., Lein, L., Romich, J., Shanks, T., Sherraden, M., Tillotson, A., & Jones, R. (2018). Grand Challenge # 10: Reduce extreme economic inequality. Chapter 11 in Rowena Fong, James Lubben, & Richard P. Barth, (Eds.) Grand Challenges for Social Work and Society. Oxford University Press.
  • Henly, J.R., Kim, J., Sandstrom, H., Pilarz, A., & Claessens, A. (2017). What Explains Short Spells on Child Care Subsidies? Social Service Review, 91(3): 488-533.
  • Henly, J.R., Sandstrom, H., & Pilarz, A (2017). Child care assistance as work-family support: Meeting the economic and caregiving needs of low-income working families in the US. Chapter 11 in M. las Heras, N. Chinchilla, & M. Grau (Eds.), Work-Family Balance in Light of Globalization and Technology, pps 241-262.  Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Stanczyk, A.B., Henly, J.R., Lambert, S. (2016).  Enough time for housework?: Low-wage work and desired housework time adjustments. Journal of Marriage and Family. 79 (February 2017): 243–260 DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12344 
  • Frank-Miller, E. G., Lambert, S.J., & Henly, J.R. (2015). Age, wage, and job placement: Older women’s experiences entering the retail sector. Journal of Women and Aging. 27(2), 157-173.
  • Henly, J.R. & Lambert, S. (2014). Unpredictable work timing in retail jobs: Implications for employee work-life outcomes. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 67(3), 986-1016.
  • Henly, J.R. (2013).  Theoretical Perspectives on the Exosystem:  The Accommodation Model, Chapter 5 in Weiss, H.B., Kreider, H., Lopez, M.E., & Chatman-Nelson, C.M. (Eds). Preparing Educators to Engage Families (3rd Edition), pps. 70-75. Sage Publications. 
  • Golden, L., Henly, J.R., & Lambert, S. (2013). Work Schedule Flexibility: A Contributor to Happiness? Journal of Social Research and Policy, 4(2), 107-135.
  • Lambert, S.J. & Henly, J. R. (2013). Double jeopardy: The misfit between welfare-to-work requirements and job realities.  In Evelyn Brodkin and Gregory Marston, eds., Work and the Welfare State: The Politics and Management of Policy Change, pps. 69 – 84. Washington, DC:  Georgetown University Press.
  • Thullen, M., Henly, J.R., Hans, S. (2012). Domain-specific trajectories of father involvement among low-income, young, African-American mothers. Journal of the Society of Social Work and Research, 3(3), 129-144.
  • Lambert, S.J., Haley-Lock, A., & Henly, J.R.  (2012). Schedule flexibility in hourly jobs: unanticipated consequences and promising directions. Community, Work & Family, 15(3), 293-315.
  • Lambert, S.J & Henly, J.R. (2012). Frontline managers matter: Labour flexibility practices and sustained employment in hourly retail jobs in the U.S. In Chris Warhurst, Francoise Carré, Patricia Findlay, and Chris Tilly, eds., Are Bad Jobs Inevitable? Trends, Determinants and Responses to Job Quality in the Twenty-First Century. England: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 143-159
  • Golden, L., Wiens-Tuers, B., Lambert, S., & Henly, J.R. (2011). Working time in the employment relationship: Working time, perceived control and work-life balance. In K. Townsend & A. Wilkinson (eds.), Research Handbook on the Future of Work and Employment Relations (pp. 188-211). Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Bromer, J., Paulsell, D., Porter, T., Henly, J.R, Ramsburg, D., Weber, R., & Families and Quality Workgroup Members (2010).  Family-sensitive caregiving: A key component of quality in early care and education arrangements. In M. Zaslow, I. Martinez-Beck, K. Tout, & T. Halle (Eds.), Quality Measurement in Early Childhood Settings, pps. 161-190. Brooks. 
  • Bromer, J. & Henly, J.R. (2009).  The work-family support roles of child care providers across settings.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24(3), 271-288.
  • Campbell, E., Henly, J.R., Elliott, D., Irwin, K. (2009). Subjective constructions of neighborhood boundaries. Journal of Urban Affairs, 31(4), 461-490.
  • Lambert, S. & Henly, J.R. (2007). Lower-level jobs and work-family studies. In Work family encyclopedia, eds. P. Raskin & M. Pitt Catsouphes. Sloan Work-FamilyResearch Network, Boston College.
  • Henly, J. R., Shaefer, H.L., & Waxman, R.E. (2006). Nonstandard work schedules: Employer- and employee-driven flexibility in retail jobs. Social Service Review, 80, 609–634.
  • Henly, J.R., Danziger, S.K., & Offer, S. (2005). The contribution of social support to the material well-being of low-income families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 122-140. (Awarded the 2007 Excellence in Research Award, Society of Social Work and Research.)
  • Henly, J.R. & Lambert, S. (2005). Nonstandard work and child-care needs of low-income parents. Chapter 30 in Bianchi, S.M., Casper, L.M., & King, R.B. (Eds.), Work, Family, Health, and Well-Being, 473-492. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
  • Lyons, S., Henly, J.R., & Schuerman, J. (2005). Informal support in maltreating families: Its effect on parenting practices. Children and Youth Services Review, 27(1), 21-38.
  • Bromer, J. & Henly, J.R. (2004). Child care as family support: Caregiving practices across child care providers. Children and Youth Services Review, 26(10), 941-964.
  • Henly, J.R. (2002). Informal support networks and the maintenance of low-wage jobs.  In Munger, F. (Ed.), Laboring Below the Line: The New Ethnography of Poverty, Low-Wage Work, and Survival in the Global Economy, 179-203. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Danziger, S.K., Carlson, M., & Henly, J.R. (2001). Post-welfare employment and psychological well-being. Women and Health, 32(1/2),47-78.
  • Henly, J.R. & Lyons, S. (2000). The negotiation of child care and employment demands among low-income parents. Journal of Social Issues, 56(4), 683-706.
  • Henly, J.R. (2000). Mismatch in the low-wage labor market: Job search perspective. In Kaye, K. & Nightingale, D.S. (Eds.), The Low-Wage Labor Market: Challenges and Opportunities for Economic Self-Sufficiency, 145-167. Washington: Urban Institute Press.
  • Henly, J.R. (1999). Barriers to finding and maintaining jobs: The perspectives of workers and employers in the low-wage labor market. In Handler, J.F. & White, L. (Eds.), Hard Labor: Women and Work in the Post-Welfare Era, 48-75. New York: ME Sharpe, Inc.
  • Henly, J.R. (1999). Comments to G. Duncan & G. Caspary, Welfare dynamics and welfare reform, in Joseph, L.B. (Ed.), Families, Poverty, and Welfare Reform: Confronting a New Policy Era, 169-73. Chicago: Center for Urban Research and Policy Studies, Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago. Distributed by University of Illinois Press. 
  • Henly, J.R. (1997). The complexity of support:  The impact of family structure and provisional support on African American and white adolescent mothers’ well-being. American Journal of Community Psychology, 25(5), 629-655.
  • Lindsey, D. & Henly, J.R. (1997). The future of child welfare.  In Reisch, M. & Gambrill, E. (Eds.), Social Work in the 21st Century, 100-118. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
  • Henly, J.R. & Danziger, S.K. (1996). Confronting welfare stereotypes: Characteristics of general assistance recipients and postassistance employment. Social Work Research, 20(4),217-227. Reprinted in 1997 in Ewait, P.L., Freeman, E.M., Kirk, S.A., & Poole, D. L. (Eds.), Social Policy:  Reform, Research, and Practice, 124-139. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
  • Wittenbrink, B. & Henly, J.R. (1996). Creating social reality:  Informational social influence and the content of stereotypic beliefs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(6),598-610.
  • Henly, J.R. (1995). Comparative research on adolescent childbearing:  Understanding race differences.  African American Research Perspectives, 2(1), 70-81, Spring.
  • Henly, J.R. (1993). The significance of social context:  The case of adolescent parenting in the African American community.  Journal of Black Psychology, 19(4), 461-477.

Julia Henly is a Professor in the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, where she is the Deputy Dean for Research and Faculty Development and the co-director of the Employment Instability, Family Well-being, and Social Policy Network (EINet). Henly is a 2018 Society for Social Work and Research Fellow, a 2016 Interdisciplinary Research Leadership Program Fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a 2016 Distinguished Fellow of the William T. Grant Foundation. She is also a longstanding member of the steering committee of the US/DHHS Administration for Children and Families' Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium.  

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.