Students in a Washington Head Start classroom welcome Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). (Kai-Huei Yau/Associated Press.)

At least four Head Start early childhood education programs have ceased operations since the federal government shutdown. And another joins the list at the end of the day on Friday, resulting in more than 5,000 children going without services nationwide.

Georgia’s Ninth District Opportunity Inc. Head Start program is the fifth and largest known program to have stopped operations since the federal government shut down Tuesday.

“We will be shut down as of Friday,” NDO Head Start Director Kay Laws said in a Thursday e-mail to The Washington Post. NDO serves 2,153 children in 113 classrooms, according to a news release. And it joins programs in four other states that have already shut down.

Those are:

  1. Connecticut’s Action for Bridgeport Community Development, which serves 1,019 children.

  2. Mississippi’s Five County Child Development Program, which serves 900 children.

  3. Alabama’s Talladega Clay Randolph Child Care Corp., which serves 898 children.

  4. Florida’s Capital Area Community Action Agency, which serves 378 children.

Thanks to the across-the-board budget cuts under sequestration, the federal Head Start program had already suffered its largest funding hit since it began in 1965, according to the nonprofit National Head Start Association.

Federal Head Start grants are distributed to state programs on different schedules. A total of 23 programs — including the five already shut down — were up for grant renewals  Oct. 1, when the government shutdown. Those programs serve a total of nearly 18,800 children.

The remaining 18 programs are  in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico and South Carolina and serve more than 13,400 children.