The Department of Children and Families is seeking to terminate the parental rights of a New London (Connecticut) couple whose son nearly died in a Groton foster home — an outcome, advocates say, that highlights the downward spiral of poor families who become trapped in the child welfare system. Once poor parents become involved with DCF, they don’t have the legal resources to fight; they’re required to fix housing and financial problems to get their children back and there’s no public scrutiny or recourse if they feel they’re treated unfairly within the confines of private, juvenile court, advocates said. “The confusion of poverty with neglect is the single biggest problem in American child welfare,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. Poor parents are more likely than middle-class parents to have their parental rights terminated because they’re more likely to have their children taken in the first place, he said. The department served 73,360 children in 2016 and had 2,310 children enter DCF care, or 3 percent of the total served. Of the substantiated investigations by DCF, 90 percent are for neglect and 10 percent are for abuse. Martin Guggenheim, a professor of law at New York University and co-director of the Family Defense Clinic, said the only children in foster care in the United States come from poor families. People turn a blind eye to the same behavior or inadequate parenting in middle-class neighborhoods, he said.