The paper focuses on the participation of families in poverty in civic life. It addresses the articulation of their voices in policy formation, implementation, and evaluation. A new practice of activation of the long-term unemployed is presented, namely community services, situated in the social economy sector in Flanders (Belgium). After introducing the basic concepts, some arguments are formulated in support of a competence approach and a participatory approach. We finally touch on the problematique of the translation of this approach into policy criteria.