Kelley Fong


Kelley Fong, UCI sociology assistant professor, studies social inequality and family life with an emphasis on how social policies and social services affect families, as well as how families experience and engage with these systems. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology and social policy at Harvard University and was an assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech before joining the faculty at UCI this fall.

Her current work focuses on Child Protective Services, a system that she notes intervenes far more frequently in U.S. families (particularly low income, Black, and Native American families) than many people realize. Using administrative data and fieldwork conducted with a variety of stakeholders in the system, her research examines the causes and consequence of this high and unequal CPS contact. She’s particularly interested in the costs to children and families of responding to social needs and family adversity through a system oriented around parental wrongdoing and authorized to separate families.

She’s also interested in education and education policy and has conducted research on school choice and residential selection. This work examines how families with children decide where to live and where to send their kids to school and how these processes vary based on families’ social contexts.

The strong community of scholars in the sociology department as well as the interdisciplinary nature of her work is what piqued Fong’s interest in UCI, where scholars across multiple departments and schools are studying inequality, public policy, education, and social control from a number of disciplinary perspectives. She’s looking forward to connecting and collaborating across campus to strengthen UCI’s work and efforts toward social justice.

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