Doug Reeves will never forget one of the most painful days of his life, the day his soon-to-be-3-year-old granddaughter was killed.

"Now I'm to the point where I can think about the good times," Reeves said.

In 2015, Grace's dad's girlfriend was convicted of killing the toddler. Reeves said he had suspected abuse before and contacted Child Protective Services three times, but he said Grace was never taken out of the abusive situation.

"They failed her," Reeves said.

Since then, Reeves has transformed his pain into a purpose, advocating for CPS reform and helping other families try to navigate the agency.

Reeves said it's been an uphill battle, but for first time he feels real hope after talking to lawmakers like Jeff Leach of Plano.

Doug Reeves and his late granddaughter, Grace. Photo: Courtesy

"I am grateful for the Governor declaring this an emergency issue,” Leach said. “Now it's time to get to work.”

The Republican state representative wrote an open letter asking for an emergency session to address the troubled department. He said the Governor made the right choice and he's encouraged by overwhelming bipartisan support.

"When it comes to Texas' children there is no red, there is no blue," Leach said.

Leach said he is pro-life "from the womb to the tomb," and supporting foster families, adoptions and CPS is a part of that commitment.

"We as lawmakers have to work, but we're also partnering with faith organizations and different groups to make a change," Leach said.

Both the lawmaker and Reeves said the state has to spend more money, hire more caseworkers and improve training for CPS staff.

"I'm not just talking about a couple hours in a classroom," Reeves said.

Three years after Grace's death, the pain is still sharp. Reeves said he talks to his granddaughter during quiet moments in his car.

"I believe however the heaven system works the people up there can see what we're doing," Reeves said.

With that in mind, Reeves said he'll continue to fight to improve CPS, so what happened to Grace doesn't happen to another child.