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Faculty & Staff

Abigail Williams-Butler

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., University of Michigan, MS, Developmental Psychology, and MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Williams-Butler’s research interests include understanding the developmental trajectories of children and adolescents in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She is particularly interested in using resilience science to identify mechanisms to promote positive developmental outcomes, examining the intersectional nature of child and adolescent development, and identifying innovative approaches towards trauma-informed care for children and youth involved in child-serving systems.


Williams-Butler received her PhD from the University of Michigan in the Joint Social Work and Developmental Psychology program. Her research agenda is informed by her practice experience as a residential counselor for adolescents with substance abuse and mental health disorders. After completing her MSW internship at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington DC, Williams-Butler became passionate about conducting research with both interventions and policy change in mind. She is currently the PI on a longitudinal study examining the promotive and risk factors for at-risk adolescents in the juvenile justice system. She is also a Co-PI on a SAMSHA funded project and a New Jersey Department of Health project examining the integration of Trauma Informed Practice into substance abuse treatment services. She recently received an NIMH New Investigator Award to examine the public health impact of mental health service use in predicting positive outcomes among African American adolescents in contact with the juvenile justice system. Williams-Butler recently completed a two year postdoctoral associate position at the Rutgers School of Social Work. 

Courses Taught: 

Social Welfare Policy and Services I
HBSE Developmental Perspectives on Infant and Child Well-Being 
Adolescence: Risk and Resilience

Selected Recent Publications: 

Dorsey, M., & Williams-Butler, A. (Accepted). Theoretical considerations for the development of urban Black adolescent females. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. 

Williams-Butler, A., Golden, K.*, Mendez, A.*, & Stevens, B.* (2020). Intersectionality and child welfare policy: Implications for Black women, children and families. Child Welfare, 98(4). 

Duron, J.F., Williams-Butler, A., Schmidt, A., & Colon, L.* (2020). Mentors’ experiences of mentoring justice-involved adolescents: A narrative of developing cultural consciousness through connection. Journal of Community Psychology, 48(7), 2309-2325. 

Williams-Butler, A., Duron, J., Costantino, A.*, & Schmidt, A. (2020). Relational permanence and delinquency among African American adolescents in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review. 

Bosk, E.A., Williams-Butler, A., & Ruisard, D., & MacKenzie, M. (2020). Frontline staff characteristics and capacity for trauma-informed care: Implications for the child welfare workforce. Child Abuse & Neglect. 

Hong, J., Williams-Butler, A., Garthe, R., Kim, J.*, & Voisin, D. (2020). Relationship between coping strategies and peer victimization among low-income African American youth living in Chicago. Child and Youth Care Forum, 49(2), 287-302. 

Williams-Butler, A., Gale, A., & Dorsey, M. (2019). Gender differences among Black adolescents in foster care: The relationship between relational permanence and psychological well-being. Journal of Public Child Welfare.

Greenfield, B., Williams-Butler, A., Fay, K. P., Duron, J. F., Bosk, E. A., Stepleton, K., & Mackenzie, M. J. (2019). Maternal Adverse Childhood Experiences, current cumulative risk, and behavioral dysregulation among child welfare involved children. Developmental Child Welfare1(4), 327–343.

Williams-Butler, A. (2018). Reducing Delinquency among African American Youth in Foster Care: Is Gender Promotive in Crossover Prevention? Children and Youth Services Review, 94, 563-571.

Williams-Butler, A., Ryan, J. P, McLoyd, V. C., Schulenberg, J. E., Davis-Kean, P. E. (2018). Psychological well-being among African American adolescents in foster care: The role of relational permanence. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 27 (10), 3277-3287.

Williams, A. B., Ryan, J. P., Davis-Kean, P. E., McLoyd, V. C., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2017). The discontinuity of offending in African-American youth in the juvenile justice system. Youth & Society, 49, 610-633.

Selected Media Coverage:

Science Trends (January 8, 2019). Reducing Delinquency Among African American Youth in Foster Care.

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