Welfare reform focuses on teens By The Associated Press When Congress takes up welfare reform next year, teen-age mothers will be Exhibit A. Critics say the welfare system encourages teen-age girls to have illegitimate babies and allows the fathers to escape responsibility. More than 40 percent of all single mothers on the welfare rolls today had their first child as a teen-ager. These babies often grow up to become teen parents themselves. To break this cycle of poverty, all sorts of welfare changes have been proposed, from minor tinkering to cutting off almost all public aid. Two plans have received the most attention so far. The House Republicans' "Contract with America" endorses legislation that would cut welfare spending and: » Deny welfare benefits and public housing to unwed mothers under age- 18; states could ban benefits for all mothers under 21 if they prefer. The money saved would finance orphanages and adoptions. * Require unwed mothers who qualify for welfare to identify the child's father before receiving aid, and force fathers to pay child support. * Deny increased benefits for additional children born while a mother is on welfare. . . » Restrict recipients to five years of cash benefits; states could cut off aid after two years if they prefer. * * Require welfare recipients to participate in state work programs. "The Clinton administration has its own welfare reform proposal, which has an uncertain future in the new Republican-led Congress. President Clinton would: * Require mothers under 18 to live with their parents and stay in school to receive welfare benefits. * Require mothers to identify the child's father before receiving a welfare check, and force fathers to pay child support. » Restrict welfare recipients to two years of cash assistance, with the clock starting when they turn 18. They would get job training and help finding work, and could work in government-subsidized jobs after their benefits end. * Guarantee child care for welfare mothers in job training or work programs. * Lailnch a nationwide campaign to prevent teen pregnancy and a clearinghouse so communities and schools can share information about programs that work. Give §400 million in grants to prevention programs, including whole-life approaches.